Pumpkin and Bean Soup
This week I started a weekly local food initiative to highlight in season, local produce that everyone can eat and prepare themselves! Because I am starting it the first week of October, I figured pumpkins would be a great gourd for the spotlight! If you want to stay tuned into all the exciting things happening, with this initiative, head over to my Instagram and give me a follow to make sure you stay up to date with everything local, or follow my hashtag #GettingItLocal
Pumpkins are the quintessential Autumn food. We always know when the leaves are about to turn color when Starbucks launches everyone’s favorite latte. For me, this is the best season and the reason why I never went back to California; I will never give up a New England Autumn!
Almost exactly a year ago during my dietetic internship, you may recall I made a meal for all my other interns using seasonal produce and a tight budget. This is the soup I decided to make and honestly, it was so good that I have been waiting for pumpkins to come back in season so I can make it again. I recently made a mini road trip to Rochester, as all of my sweaters and winter clothes were in storage, and while spending some much needed time catching up with friends, we went to a local farm selling pumpkins. They also had some type of inflatable bounce house thing for kids and you can bet that I starting jumping as soon as I saw it!
Anyway, I got some little pie pumpkins here, which are perfect for cooking with, unlike the large, stringy, and flavor-lacking jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Since using whole pumpkins in cooking is not very common (making this soup last year was my first experience) here’s how to pick a ripe pumpkin:
- Smaller is better; larger pie pumpkins are often less sweet.
- Pick a pumpkin that is heavy for it’s size.
- Give it a good thud, it should sound hollow and almost bounce back at you.
- Listen for rattling. Not all pumpkins will do this, but hearing the seeds bounce around is a good sign that it’s ready to eat.
Jack-o-lanterns on the left, pie pumpkins on the right. You can see the size difference!
This soup is very versatile! It is so easy to make vegan/vegetarian, add in some bacon, your favorite herbs, you can play with the spiciness, or add in another veggie if you want! Here is the way I made it, but feel free to let me know how you changed it in the comments!
Pumpkin and Bean Soup
Serves 6, Prep time: 20 min, Cook time: 20 min
~adapted from Simply Organic~
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 yellow onion
- 3-4 tsp of salt (depending on preference)
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 small pumpkin (3.5 pounds) peeled, seeded, and diced
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomatoes and liquid (16 oz)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups of water (or however much to cover all your ingredients by a good half inch)
- parmesan cheese rind, plus some grated for serving
- 1.5 cups spinach
- 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped*
- 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped*
- 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped*
- Heat butter in large pot and add onions, ~1 tsp salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes until onions are almost see through.
- Add in chili powder, cayenne, and garlic. cook for ~1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Tip: adding spices in with the fat allows more flavors to come out and integrate with the dish rather than adding at the end.
- Add in the pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, parmesan rind (if using), and enough water to cover. Add in another tsp or so of salt and let it come to a boil.
- Once at a boil, bring down to a simmer for ~15 minutes or until pumpkin is cooked, meaning it is easily pierced with a fork.
- With 5 minutes left, add in spinach, thyme, rosemary, and sage. *I think fresh herbs, especially sage, make this soup, but if you don’t have any fresh, feel free to use dried herbs, but make sure to use tsp instead of tbsp for their measurements.
- Ladle soup into your favorite mug or bowl and enjoy! Top with shredded parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Use veggie broth to make vegetarian
- Omit the cheese and switch the butter for oil to make vegan
- Slice a couple strips of bacon and cook until crispy. Remove bacon, follow directions using the onions to get all the yummy bacon flavor off the bottom of the pot. Add half back in with the other ingredients and save the other half for topping.
- Easily switch the pumpkin for butternut squash
- Switch the black/kidney beans for your favorite bean (I made this originally with all black beans, but I forgot to get a third can and I only had a can of kidney beans on hand. Still worked out very well! Cooking is about using what you have on hand!)
- If you don’t have a parmesan rind you can use a small chunk of parm, but make sure to fish it out before you serve. It may also start to melt and get everywhere while boiling, so be careful. 🙂 (But next time you buy a block of parm, save the rind in the freezer for this soup or others! )
Hope you enjoy the soup!
Fun fact: Pumpkins are really yellow on the inside so the canned pumpkin you get at the store isn’t a true pumpkin because consumers wanted that nice orange color. It’s usually a combination of other squashes because there is no technical term for pumpkin.