Butternut, Black Bean, and Turkey Chili

butternut chili

I like the day after--the day after Christmas when everything is quiet;  the day after a catering gig or a stressful piece of work with a client.  And yes, the day after Thanksgiving.  With a blog about leftovers, this would seem to be my signature day, except the leftovers are always at someone else's house.  I did come home with a ziploc full of turkey, though.  Is there anything better than that?

This is my mother-in-law Phyllis' recipe.   Phyllis and I are remarkably compatible in the kitchen--just one of the many things I enjoy and appreciate about her.  In-laws are funny things.  They become a giant part of your life after marriage, but you don't choose them.  I totally lucked out with Phyllis--she loves me, she adores my kids, she supports our family in every way imaginable.  And she anticipates my every move in the kitchen, handing me a knife just before I reach for it or pouring me a glass of wine while I salt the soup.

I suspect I'm not alone in the "I'm-never-eating-again" pronouncements that ensue after Thanksgiving.  This soup will get you back on track.  Full of fiber, low-fat, warming enough to help you forget you're horribly overwhelmed by holiday to-do's and you have to go back to work on Monday.

Yancey's at the fire station, we're home from Dick and Phyllis' house, and this morning, the day stretched like an eternity in front of me. Piles of laundry, unpacked suitcases, no prospect of other adults for 24 hours.  So after breakfast, we took the train downtown to the Central Library and Pike Place.  I've been promising Wyatt a field trip to the Central Library forever.  He wasn't disappointed.  I had to "shush!" Loretta countless times, but I loved seeing their absolute wonderment at the neon yellow escalators, the book spiral, the honeycomb light.  They must wonder, "Why are all these adults just sitting here?" Indeed.

central library

Butternut, Black Bean, and Turkey Chili
Serves six.  Phyllis found the original recipe for this on a Weight Watchers recipe website, but I changed it a bunch.  You could add corn or a can of pinto beans, you can leave the turkey out or sub chicken for turkey.

2 Tb. olive oil
2 small or one large sweet onions, finely diced
1 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt
2 ts. chili powder (or more to taste)
1/2 ts. cinnamon
1 ts. cumin
1 ts. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
freshly ground pepper
6 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (from one large or two small squash)
1 qt. water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cans rinsed and drained black beans
1 lb. cooked and browned turkey sausage OR shredded cooked turkey
cilantro and sour cream for garnish

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add bell pepper, garlic, salt, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves, oregano, and pepper and cook for another five minutes, adding a splash of water if it's sticking.

Add squash and water (or stock), bring to a boil, then simmer until squash is barely tender, about 15 minutes.

Add tomatoes, black beans, and turkey sausage (or turkey) and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, skimming off foam occasionally, until soup is thickening and flavors are melded.  Remove 2 cups of the soup and mash with a potato masher or put through the blender or food processor.  Add puree back to soup and stir thoroughly.

Serve garnished with sour cream and cilantro and hot sauce on the side, if you like.