Halloween Soup: Yam, Black Bean and Couscous Soup

This bright orange soup with black bean accents is perfect for Halloween. You can make it on the lighter side by reducing the amount of couscous, but I like it to be a little thicker, more like porridge, so I use all the couscous. I recently purchased tri-colored couscous and used it with good results. Many years ago on my first trip to Sicily, my husband and I went to a restaurant that served a fantastic fish stew with couscous. The fish stock was deeply flavorful and there was a generous amount of mussels, clams, calamari and shrimp in it and the couscous absorbed the flavors beautifully. Ever since then I like couscous in soups. Confession…..I use Knorr bouillon cubes in this recipe. I always have them on hand and find them very convenient if I am in a hurry.

Yam, Black Bean and Couscous Soup
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 c. chopped bacon
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
10 c. water
3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes
2 medium yams, peeled and cubed (3 cups)
1 c. pumpkin purée
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/4 c. tri-colored couscous

In a 5-quart stockpot heat olive oil on medium heat. When hot add onion and sauté for 5 minutes until soft and beginning to turn golden. Add bacon and cook 5 minutes until some of the fat renders. Add celery and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add water and bouillon cubes and bring to the boil. Add yams and pumpkin purée and fresh thyme. Return to the boil. Cover and simmer on medium low for about 40 minutes until the yams are very tender. Add black beans and cook 5 minutes to heat through. Add couscous. Cover and let simmer 5-10 minutes until couscous is tender. Serves 6-8.

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