Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pumpkin Black Bean and Lentil Soup

Absolutely delicious. Let's get that out there right now. I'm pleased with myself.

In Northern California we're in that in-between period of Spring where you'll venture out one day in your linen dress and sunglasses and embrace the sun, and the next day in a head scarf and warm jacket, leaning into the wind. Today is one of the chilly days and I wanted a pot of soup (although I'm one of those who can appreciate a pot of soup year round, and I love soup for breakfast).

I wanted black bean soup, and went hunting for a quick and easy recipe. I browsed several ideas and then landed on an interesting flavor combo for pumpkin black bean soup on Blackberries and Lobster. That blog, in turn, got the inspiration from Smitten Kitchen. I ran with the flavor idea, and only when I finished, and came to collect the links for this post, did I even realize that one of my last minute inspirations -- adding sherry -- was already on Smitten Kitchen's recipe.

I think this not-sweet flavor marriage of pumpkin and vegetables is just outstanding. I'll be happily eating this for the next several days because try as I might, I just cannot make a small batch of soup. I become this crazy soup alchemist, stirring, adding, tasting, experimenting, until I have a full cauldren. For that same reason, sharing my scratch soup recipes can be difficult. I don't measure, I season to taste, I add things at random. Anyone who loves making soup and reads foodie blogs will appreciate that soup is a very personal thing and is fully customizable -- just take the ideas, if you like them, and run with it.


  • 1 - container of Trader Joe's Mirepoix (about 1 cup each of chopped celery, onion, and carrot)
  • 1 - 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed free of bean goo
  • 1 - 15 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 - 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 pouch of Trader Joe's Beluga Lentils (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large can or box of broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • cooked bacon
  • Penzey's spices a-plenty (I used loads of cumin, smokey blends, green blends, and finally, some roasted schezwan pepper salt of my own blend)

Coat the bottom of the stock pan with a quick swirl of olive oil. Add the entire container of mirepoix, or, 1 cup each of chopped celery, onion, and carrot (assuring the carrot is a small dice). Add several garlic cloves, chopped cooked bacon (I used three slices of pre-cooked, cold bacon, snipped with scissors into small bits), a good handful of spices (I used loads of cumin and several blends from Penzey's) and saute all until the onion is tender, the bacon has rendered a little fat, but the garlic has not browned.

Add the can of tomatoes, stir, and bring just to a simmer.
Add the drained black beans, stir, and bring back to a simmer.
Add the can of pumpkin puree, stir, and bring back to a simmer.

Using a stick blender, gently pulse about half of the veggies in the pan. I like some texture, so I wanted some pureed until they were pulpy, but left most of intact.

Begin to add some stock to cover the veggies, and bring back to a simmer. Continue to add stock in increments until the flavor and texture is as you like it.

Add 1 cup of fully cooked lentils. I used tiny black "Beluga Lentils" which are from Trader Joe's and fully cooked.

Simmer the soup, adding or adjusting spices as you do so. Taste about a thousand times because you can't believe how tasty this combination is.

Finally, to finish, add a healthy splash (perhaps a 1/3 of cup for me) of California Sherry.

Serve as you wish, topped with croutons, or served with cornbread, or even a dollop of sour cream would be lovely. This was a really low-fat soup, combined a few SuperFoods (I'm trying to consume several each day, in this case lentils and pumpkin), was a snap to make, and, most of all was economical -- my canned items came from the dollar store (the stock, the pumpkin, the tomatoes, and the bleans).

Slurp away.


  1. pumpkin & black bean of my what a wonderful combination!

  2. looks like such a warming, filling, tasty soup. good 'un!

  3. That soup sounds sooo yummy and hearty! I want to try it right off the screen.

  4. I might just have to cook some of this up this weekend!

  5. The tomato in the soup is a Superfood as well...same with the onion from the Mirepoix and the evoo :)

  6. What is the nutritional information for this dish - protein, calories, fat, etc??

  7. Anonymous, that's a really difficult question to answer, reliably, for the home cook. As I said above ... "I just cannot make a small batch of soup. I become this crazy soup alchemist, stirring, adding, tasting, experimenting, until I have a full cauldren. For that same reason, sharing my scratch soup recipes can be difficult. I don't measure, I season to taste, I add things at random."

    The best way to calculate the nutritional data for any given recipe is to use a recipe calculator. I like the one at Spark People. I've run the stats for you, but bear in mind, your serving size may vary. What is a serving of homemade soup? 1 cup? 1.5 cups? The stats can vary significantly based on that, and how you've adapted the recipe. How much bacon did you use? How much water? Etc. The GENERAL stats for the entire cauldron of soup (which lasted a week), I've calculated for you, below. I had at least 10 cups of soup, and probably a lot more, so I've taken the entire pot and divided it into 10 servings.

    106.9 calories per serving
    1.4 grams fat
    18.1 grams carbs
    6.9 grams protein

    Hope this help. Try the calculator at http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  8. I don't have a trader joe's where I live and have this soup simmering at home. I was wondering if you could describe what spices you used and what is included in these Trader Joe's spice blends. I've put cumin and tumeric in, with a little pepper and it still tastes like it "needs something".

    Thanks! Molly

  9. Molly

    Well, your soup is probably long finished by now, but I came home and checked my recipe. I used a lot of Penzey's spices -- those are from penzeys.com and are not Trader Joe's spices. Penzey's make terrific blends and for this, I used a dab of this and a dab of that until it had the seasoning I particularly liked. Soup is such a personal thing -- like you said, yours still "needs something" and every cook's palatte is different. The blends below are SO full of different flavor, it would be impossible for you to add them all. I know that's frustrating, but that's probably why I described them as "smokey" blends (the Ozark and Northwoods) and "green blends" (the Mural) so that the cook can customize regionally or to her taste. The blends I used were just dibs and dabs of these:

    Ozark Seasoning
    Salt, black pepper, garlic, thyme, sage, paprika, mustard, ancho chili, celery, cayenne, dill weed, dill seed, caraway, allspice, ginger, cardamom, bay leaf, mace, cassia, savory and cloves

    Northwoods Seasoning
    Salt, paprika, pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic and chipotle

    Mural of Flavor
    Shallots, chives, onion, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel

    Curry Powder
    A few pinches

    I know this won't be helpful, but I hope you found something to give it that "something" you liked. It's a really healthy soup.


  10. Made this tonight came out delicious...I did change a few things...

    Used 1.5 cups of lentils
    Used 28 oz Pumpkin

    Garlic cloves 4
    Cumin 1 tsp
    Cayenne Pepper 1 tsp
    Oregano 1 tsp
    Fresh Cilantro Small handful chopped
    Salt 1.5 tsp
    Nutmeg 1/4 tsp
    Cinnamon 1 Tbs
    Brown Sugar 3 Tbs

    Served with Multi grain bread from Schwans #627 and topped with a bit of cheese and bit of sour cream.

  11. I love to cook but rarely have the time, so soup is a favorite in our house. I found this recipe last winter when my fiance wanted a black bean soup and I wanted lentil.

    It has become standard for us and is the only soup that we eat every drop of every time I make it! I add about a tablespoon of cinnamon and double the pumpkin. It's always a hit and people have asked me repeatedly for the recipe! I always send them the link to come here.


  12. Wow, SN, wish I'd seen this way back then. Thank you so much and I'm glad you loved it. It's a SuperFood Super Soup!