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Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

With the weather cooling off, it’s time to start enjoying one of my favorite food categories: soup! I love soups—one, because they are tasty; two, because they are usually low in calories or can be altered to be; and three, they scream comfort food.  There’s nothing better on a cool, crisp fall lunch or winter dinner, then indulging in a warm, spicy, thick soup that sticks to your ribs.

One of my favorite soup recipes I discovered only last fall.  I tried this recipe for Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup from an insert in one of my homey magazines (I can’t remember which one).  The ingredients sounded intriguing to me, but reading through the list, I instantly knew they would meld together wonderfully and create something truly special.  I made the soup and discovered it truly is something special. 

What’s more, filled with canned tomatoes, black beans and pumpkin, this soup is loaded with healthy fiber, protein, vitamins and tons of antioxidants.  Plus, it’s low in calories but filling! I’m not sure I could have found another recipe quite so win/win…and win/win/win.

I was heartbroken a few weeks ago when I bought all the ingredients, so looking forward to this soup and could not find my recipe anywhere.  I remembered it came from one of the two magazines I subscribe to, so I scoured their websites but came up empty.  I did a websearch for the recipe but all the ones I found just didn’t sound right.  I couldn’t remember the recipe well enough to make it on my own, but I knew most of the ones I was reading were not the same as the one I had fallen in love with.

Much to my delight, a few days ago I found the little insert with the recipe that I had pulled from one of my magazines.  It was stuffed between some other recipes in a cookbook that was buried.  I was so thrilled—and I was right that none of the other recipes I searched for were like this one; one more reason why it’s so special.  I’m happy to report that I made the soup a few days ago and it’s as great as I remembered it.

The first taste definitely brings the flavor of the black beans and cumin to the forefront, but as you swallow, the great fall flavors of pumpkin, cinnamon and allspice surround your taste buds.  At a 125 calories for a 1 cup serving, you can enjoy this recipe with some crusty bread or a huge salad.  It will stick to your ribs and keep you satisfied until your next meal.  Go ahead, give it a try and let me know what you think.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
Serves 10
125 cal/serving

2 cans (14.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) pumpkin puree
½ cup red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp each, kosher salt,
   cinnamon, allspice
½ tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

  1. Place oil, red onion, garlic and all seasonings into a large pot.
  2. Cook on low-medium heat until red onion and garlic are golden brown
  3. Puree the beans and tomatoes with half of the vegetable broth*.  Add the pureed ingredients, pumpkin and rest of broth to pot.
  4. Simmer uncovered until thick. 
  5. Before serving, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and garnish with pumpkin seeds.

*For a completely blended soup, which is my preference, use an immersion blender once all the ingredients are in the pot, rather than just pureeing the black beans and tomatoes.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, pour the onion, garlic and spice mixture in the blender with the black beans, tomatoes and ½ vegetable broth during step 3.

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