Aunt Suzy says

It’s soup weather and this recipe is perfect for this time of year.  It uses pumpkin and sweet corn, and there is a very narrow slice of time when fresh sweet corn and winter squash are both available locally.  This soup is tied for first on my list of favorites with Rosemary and White Bean Soup.  I can’t wait for this time of year to make this recipe, and it’s just cool enough out today for soup.  A Viognier was recommended as a wine pairing for this soup – a French version goes perfectly!

The Pumpkin

1 small sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Cut the pumpkin or squash in half, seed and cut into 1 1/4-inch slices.  I like the pumpkin flavor better, but squash is good if you can’t find the little sugar pumpkins.  Brush the slices lightly with vegetable oil.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until just tender.  Don’t overcook or it will get mushy when added to the soup.  Let cool and then remove and discard the skin.  Cut into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.

The Soup Base

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 quarts chicken stock

1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo (from a can)

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn

1 1/2 cups cooked black or pink beans

(This is a pic of my mise en place for this phase of the soup.  I love knowing this term, which I learned recently from this interesting N Y Times magazine article on cooking prep.)  In a large dutch oven or soup pot, saute the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes until soft.  Turn up the heat a little and cook until the onion starts to brown.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a slow simmer.  Rinse, seed and thinly slice the chipotle peppers then add to the broth.  I recommend starting with one and seeing how much heat it adds to the soup, adding the second one if you’d like to amp it up a little.  Simmer the broth with the pepper for a couple of minutes and then add the pumpkin, corn and beans.  Simmer over moderate heat for 15 minutes.  COOK’S NOTES:  This can be done a day ahead of time.  If so, reheat before going on to completing the soup.  For a vegetarian version of this soup, use mock chicken broth powder to make the broth.  Substitute brown rice or tofu or both or none for the chicken in the next step.

Completing/Serving the Soup

2 cups diced chicken meat

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 lime, cut into wedges

1 ripe Haas avocado, sliced

Stir the chicken into the broth and cook until just heated through – do not boil.  Add the lime juice, the cilantro and season with salt. COOK’S NOTE:  I use more cilantro and less chicken, sometimes omitting the chicken altogether.  You can use chicken from making the stock, leftover rotisserie chicken, or (as I did this time), bake a couple of chicken breasts or thighs.

Ready to serve!   Ladle the soup into large soup bowls.  Pass the lime wedges and avocado.