Indian-Spiced Squash, Pear and Adzuki Bean Soup with Lightly Braised Mixed Mushrooms

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squash pear adzuki bean soup

A rather new to me inspiration in the kitchen is including fruit in soups meant to be served as part of a main course meal. Though I have been cooking for years and experimenting with various techniques, ingredients and combinations, fruit in a savory soup just didn't seem right. Much like my initial aversion to eggplant, a little research and testing resulted in combinations that have graced and continue to grace my table. The reactions of my guests affirm my own new assessment of such soups, like this one employing the use of nourishing seasonal squash and pears, as well as a previous favorite, pear soup with homemade raspberry sorbet.

Squash is naturally sweet, especially when roasted to really bring out that goodness that pairs so well with a variety of spice combinations and, in this case, some beans and pears. No additional sweetener needed here. This elegant side is more filling than you might think and served with a rustic quick bread for dinner, you easily have a complete meal. Everyone present was satisfied for hours, literally.

pear squash soup

Indian-Spiced Squash, Pear and Adzuki Bean Soup with Lightly Braised Mixed MushroomsIndian-Spiced Squash, Pear and Adzuki Bean Soup with Lightly Braised Mixed Mushrooms
Recipe by
Adapted from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
Cuisine: Indian
Published on October 12, 2012

Elegant, sweet and hot Indian-spiced squash soup with adzuki beans and pears, garnished with braised mixed mushrooms

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 40 to 50 minutes

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  • 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced into rounds
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 to 3 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 to 3 black cardamon pods, slightly crushed
  • 1 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri chili or 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace (optional)
  • 4 to 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 firm Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into small strips or cubes
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste
  • juice from 2 limes (4 tablespoons)
Mushroom garnish:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 oz (120 g) fresh shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1/2 oz (14 g) dried mixed wild mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Other garnish:
  • sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
  • Rinse the adzuki beans and soak in several inches of water for 6 hours or overnight.

  • Begin by roasting the squash. Preheat an oven to 400°F and position the rack in the middle of the oven. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and pulp, brush with butter or oil, and transfer to an oiled baking sheet or pan. Bake until the squash is fork tender — about 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool. Remove the skin and scoop the flesh into a small bowl.

  • While the squash is roasting, drain and rinse the soaked beans and transfer to a medium saucepan. Cover with several inches of fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside.

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the leek, carrot and celery and stir for 10 minutes. Now add the ginger, garlic and jalapeños and continue to stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the cumin seeds, cardamon pods, cinnamon stick, Kashmiri chili or chili powder, garam masala, ground coriander, mustard powder, cayenne and mace if using. Stir for another minute or until the spices are fragrant.

  • Now pour in 4 cups of the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the roasted squash, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more stock as necessary.

  • Add the chopped pear and saffron, cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and black cardamom pods and then blend a portion of the soup with a hand blender or in a countertop blender or food processor. Add the cooked adzuki beans and salt and black pepper to taste, and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes to blend the flavors, stirring often and again adding more stock as needed to thin the soup to the desired consistency.

  • While the soup is simmering, prepare the mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, stir in the fresh and dried mushrooms and stir for 6 to 8 minutes or until they begin to turn brown. Stir the tamari sauce and toasted sesame oil into the pan and continue to fry for another minute or until the liquid is absorbed.

  • Stir the lime juice into the soup just before serving and taste for seasoning. Ladle into bowls and garnish each bowl with a handful of the fried mushrooms and a sprig of fresh thyme. Serve hot.

  • Note: You can swirl a bit of fresh cream into the soup before garnishing with the mushrooms if desired.

Makes 6 servings

More adzuki bean recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Adzuki Croquettes and Spicy Sesame Sauce
Spicy Adzuki Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms
Yunnan Stir-Fried Azuki Beans and Green Pepper

On the top of the reading stack: 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra

Audio Accompaniment: Lazy Sunday Funerals by Marsen Jules


Priya Suresh said...

Fabulous,nutritious soup.

Venera@veggykitchen said...

Looks like a hearty soup! I've never tried adzuki beans. I wonder what it taste like.

Lisa Turner said...

Adzuki beans are rather earthy and remind me somewhat of mung beans.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa!! My color of mixer is WHITE!
Thanks so much, Darla