Halloween is nigh, with lots of spooky costumes and ghoulish treats to celebrate the day. Trick-or-treaters and Halloween partyers need some food to eat before they binge on candy or cocktails. Get them into the spirit with this Black Bean and Olive Soup with Avocado Spiderwebs.

I’ll admit, I “aged out” of trick-or-treating many years ago, and as an adult, I know I can buy a bag full of candy anytime I want to. But I don’t. Fond memories of scoring big on Halloween night all seem to involve finding the house that was giving out full-sized candy bars.

Why not stay in and celebrate with some fortifying bean soup, rather than going on a sugar spree? You can always have chocolate for dessert.

For this thick, black soup, all you need are dried black beans and pitted kalamata olives. They provide the color, with no need for food coloring. Simmering the beans in boxed vegetable stock adds flavor and a hint of sweetness, but if you want to use water, go ahead. A little garlic and cumin give it a Mexican approach, and you can serve some tortilla chips alongside for fun.

The Halloween crafty part comes in with the avocado garnish. If you are not into spiderwebs, feel free to simply spoon the purée on each bowl of soup. The color contrast is striking, and the tart, creamy avocado purée really pops on the earthy soup. Drizzle it in zigzags for a grown-up, post-Halloween meal.

To make a spiderweb, you don’t need any special tools beyond a plastic sandwich bag and a steady hand. Once your avocado sauce is smoothly puréed, spoon it into the plastic bag and use scissors to nip off the tip of one corner. Squeeze the avocado into that corner and make a little practice squirt on the cutting board or a plate, to see if you want a wider opening.

Once your tip is working, pipe a spiral of green on each bowl, starting in the center and working your way out. Then, with a toothpick or sharp paring knife, pull the tip from the center to the edge of the bowl, creating the spokes of the wagon wheel. Fill in the lines you’ve drawn with more avocado, if needed.

Then dig in with spoons and chips, for a not-too-scary Halloween meal.


Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of “Big Vegan,” “The Whole Grain Promise” and “Great Bowls of Food.” Find her at robinasbell.com.