For a soup that is a bit on the unusual side, try this. It's tasty. You can also substitute chicken for the ham (see preferred variation below) or leave the meat out for a vegetarian version.
3 15 ½-oz cans black beans (about 4 1/2 cups), rinsed and drained
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup minced shallot
4 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
4 cups beef broth
1 16-oz can pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 pound cooked ham, cut into 1/8 inch dice, or sliced sausage
3-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Garnish: sour cream and coarsely chopped, lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
In a food processor coarsely puree two of the cans of beans and tomatoes. In a 6 quart heavy kettle cook onion, shallot, garlic, cumin, curry, salt, and pepper in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Stir in bean puree. Stir in broth, remaining can of beans, pumpkin, and apple juice until combined and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Just before serving, add ham and vinegar and simmer soup, stirring, until heated through. Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve soup garnished with sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds. Makes about 9 cups.
Preferred variation: Use chicken instead of sausage or ham, substitute chicken broth, and cut back on or omit cider vinegar.