Greens Cookbook Recipe: Basque Pumpkin and White Bean Soup

Yesterday we featured the 23-year old classic, The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant. Today we share a recipe from the book that seems perfect for Thanksgiving, or just for autumn in general. This recipe, and others in the book, is as meticulously detailed as you'll find. Follow those details closely and you'll be rewarded with a delicious result.

"The pumpkin melts into a soft, smooth background and binds together the beans and vegetables. This soup is substantial enough to make a meal. Some planning ahead is needed, as the beans require time for soaking and cooking."

Seeds and parings from a 1-pound pumpkin or winter squash
1 ½ cups leek greens, chopped and washed
5 parsley branches
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
½ teaspoon salt
6 cups cold water

First cut the pumpkin in half; then scoop out the seeds and string fibers with a metal spoon. Next cut the halves into slices an inch or so thick, and cut the skins off each slice with a pairing knife and set them aside. Put the seeds and parings in a pot with the rest of the stock ingredients, bring to a boil, simmer for 30 minutes, and then strain.

½ cup small white beans
3 fresh sage leaves or ½ teaspoon dried sage
1 large clove garlic, peeled and left whole
1 ba leaf
2 thyme branches
½ teaspoon salt
5 or 6 cups water

Cover the beans with water and soak them overnight or, alternatively, cover them with boiling water and soak them for 1 hour. Pour off the soaking water and put the beans in a pot with the rest of the ingredients and bring them to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, lower the heat, and cook the beans at a slow boil until they are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking water.

Peeled and seeded pumpkin slices (from The Stock)
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
3 leeks, white parts only, quartered and cut into1/4-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 celery heart or 2 outer stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 to 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (optional)
2 large sage leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
½ teaspoon salt
Reserved cooking water from the beans
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Additional olive oil, for garnish

Cut the pumpkin slices into 1/2-inch squares. Warm the oil in a soup pot and add the pumpkin, vegetables, garlic, nutritional yeast, if using, sage, and salt. Stir to coat everything with a film of oil, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock and the cooking water from the beans, about 8 cups in all. Bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for about ½ hour, until the pumpkin begins to soften and fall apart. Add the beans, and continue cooking until the pumpkin has broken into a smooth puree. Taste for salt and season with more, if needed, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Serve the soup with the parsley and a small spoonful of olive oil stirred into each bowl. As this soup sits, the flavors will develop, so it can be made one or even two days before serving.

This soup could be warmly contrasted with a pinot noir or perhaps a wood-aged chardonnay.

Serves four to six

The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant
By Deborah Madison, with Edward Espe Brown
Hardcover: 396 pages
Publisher: My old copy is Bantam Books, Inc; copies after 2001 are from Broadway Books
Amazon ranking: #92,527 (that's after 23 years on the charts)

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