Wally Goldfrank, sociologist and bon vivant, has returned from November in Madagascar raving about the local, regional spins on French cuisine — “profiteroles in the tropics.” Visualize mango tarte tatin! But more. Wally loves a good bowl of soup on a chilly night – so do I – and he sends me a recipe for a butternut squash soup, with white beans and fresh ginger that he’s been enjoying for years, from Vermont’s fabled vegetarian restaurant, the Horn of the Moon.
So here it is:

1 cup uncooked white beans
10 cups water
6 cups peeled, seeded & diced butternut squash (about 2 squashes)
2 T sunflower oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 T minced fresh gnger root
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. salt
black pepper to taste

In a soup pot, bring the white beans to a boil. Simmer, covered for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender but not mushy. (Yes, Wally says, it is okay to use two cans of small white beans if you’re under time constraints.)
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. In a separate pot, cook squash in 3 cups water, covered. Simmer until tender and drain. Puree, and add to the cooked white beans.

Sauté the onion, celery, ginger and garlic in the oil, stirring occasionally. When tender, add to soup pot along with salt, pepper and 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley.
Simmer 15 minutes uncovered and serve. It will thicken as it cools; thin with a bit of water.