Makes 5 to 6 cups

This quintessential autumn soup honors the indigenous peoples who introduced corn, beans and squash—the three sisters—to the early American settlers. Kabocha (the Japanese word for “squash”) is the sweetest-tasting squash and has a bright orange flesh. Buy the smallest one you can find so it’s easier to peel and cut. Cilantro-Lime Pesto adds a fresh green dimension to the soup, but if you don’t feel like going through the effort, add a sprig of parsley to serve.

Soup:

1 cup beans, e.g. pinto beans, or Rancho Gordo heirloom beans such as Cranberry, Yellow Eye, or Scarlet Runner Beans
6 cups water (3 cups to soak, 3 cups to cook)
1 large bay leaf
3-inch piece kombu seaweed
1 tablespoon olive oil blend (Spectrum oil for high heat mixed with EVOO)
Half an onion, cubed
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
Kernels and “milk” from 2 ears yellow corn
1½ teaspoons chili powder
1½ teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon white miso

Cilantro-Lime Pesto Topping:
     Makes ½ cup
1 bunch cilantro
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1. To prepare beans, soak for 24 hours, drain. Bring to boil with 3 cups fresh water in a pressure cooker or 3-quart pot. Allow to boil uncovered for 5 minutes. Scrape off and discard foam that rises to the surface. Add bay leaf and kombu and cover to cook until tender, 20 minutes in a pressure cooker, longer in a pot.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, squash and salt and stir well. Add water or broth and cook until squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Add corn, corn “milk” (the flavorful juices that come out when, after cutting off the kernels, you scrape a knife over the cob in the opposite direction), chili powder, and cumin and continue to cook 5 minutes more.

3. When beans are done, remove kombu. Mix lime juice with miso and enough hot bean broth to make smooth. Add both lime-miso mixture and beans to vegetables. Cook to blend flavors, 5 to 10 minutes more.

4. To make Cilantro-Lime Pesto, place ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

5. Serve soup topped with a spoonful of pesto placed in the middle.