This recipe might have come from the old hippie restaurant cookbook, The Horn of the Moon. They didn’t use sweet potatoes though, and I think they add unbelievable depth, sweetness, and body to a pretty good soup.

Many customers buy 2 or 3 of these at a time, one to eat, and a couple to freeze. As we make soup in the fall and winter only, these come in handy on those cold spring days.

Butternut Ginger Soup
serves 8

1 lb. white navy beans
1 large sweet potato, about 1 lb.
1 medium butternut squash, about 1 1/2 lbs.
2 T olive oil
2 T ginger, peeled and minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 C brown basmati rice
1-2 t salt, to your taste

If you’re using dried beans, soak them in water overnight, add a little salt, 1/2 tsp. or so, and cook until done, adding water as it boils off or becomes absorbed. Set aside.

While beans are cooking, bake the sweet potato and butternut squash. I like to slice them lengthwise, scoop the seeds out of the squash, spray their cut surfaces with olive oil, spray a cookie sheet or sheet pan, and bake them, cut sides down, at 375 until soft, about 45 mins.-1 hour. Test for doneness with a sharp pointy knife–if there’s no resistance, they’re done. If the sweet potato gets done first, take it out and continue baking the squash. Let them cool a bit, and using a spoon, scoop out the soft insides directly into a food processor. Discard the skins. Add a cup of water to the veggies, and buzz them up. If it’s really thick, add a little more water. You want it fairly thick, because you’ll have the water from the rice mixture and you’ll be adding the water from the beans to the soup.

In a 4 qt. soup pot or cast iron pot, saute the onions, ginger and celery in the oil. When soft, add the carrots and garlic. Saute a few minutes more.  Add 3 cups of water, a little salt, and the basmati rice. You can use white here, but I like the texture of the brown rice better. White cooks faster, though, 10-15 mins., brown, 30.

When the rice is cooked, add the beans and their water, and the pureed potato/butternut. Taste for salt. If the soup’s too thick, add a little water and simmer 10 mins. If it’s a little thin, simmer it awhile with the cover off the soup pot.

A couple of suggestions:
1. You can put the cooked yam/butternut puree in the fridge and proceed with the recipe the following day.
2. You can chop the garlic and ginger in the food processor until it all sticks to the sides of the bowl, add the onion, carrots, and celery, cut in chunks, and pulse until they’re chopped. Don’t overdo this–you want small pieces, not mush. I do this when I’m in a rush, but I prefer the look of the sliced and diced. Then saute!
3. You can bring the dry navy beans to a boil, turn off the heat, let it sit for one hour, and then finish boiling them. I do this a lot.
4. Use 3 15 oz. cans of beans, drained and rinsed, if you’re in a rush. After you add the beans to the soup, add 2-3 cups of water in batches until you like the consistency.