Saturday night, right in the middle of the first cold snap, was the last outdoor concert in the Bluebird on the Mountain series. I love these concerts, played in a fairly intimate setting on the grounds of the Dyer Observatory. We discovered these events last year, and although tickets are hard to come by, they are worth the effort. We’ve always had great weather, until this past weekend. It was clear and pretty, but it was the coldest night so far this fall and we are wimpy Southerns! The temperature steadily dropped from the 60s and hit a low of 49 F by the end of the concert. This makes for a pretty cold setting when sitting in lawn chairs for several hours! We huddled in our layers and blankets and kept warm by eating soup and sipping hot chocolate.
Initially, when considering the diverse group of family attending the concert, I was a bit stuck. We had a couple vegetarians, several omnivores, and a variety of tastes. It was a challenge until my mom mentioned this soup that she started making after tasting it at a friend’s party. It’s actually vegan, but even my somewhat picky, meat-loving stepfather likes it. It sounded like the perfect warming meal for a picnic dinner!
Now, typically when I think of pumpkin, I think of sweet fall desserts, but it add can also add creaminess and just a touch of sweetness to savory dishes. When used in this soup, you end up with a rich, creamy taste without any dairy and virtually no fat. It’s also loaded with lots of great veggies! Don’t be put off by the coconut oil and pumpkin, this is a savory soup with the cumin adding a bit of smoky taste and just enough spice. I am sure I will be making this again as the temperatures continue to drop. Well, when they drop again anyway. Looks like Nashville will be back in the 80’s this week!
One final note, this recipe was adapted from my mom’s version, which she adapted from her friend’s version, which originally appeared in a magazine, but no one remembers which one. If you know the original location, let us know!
Makes 8 servings
2 small onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tbs. coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ tsp. cumin
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
2 15 oz cans pumpkin puree
2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes with chilies (I recommend the Rotel brand)
2 medium tomatoes chopped (another can of diced tomatoes can be substituted)
1 ½ cups frozen corn
~1 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Melt the coconut oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add onion and both bell peppers and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin, mix well, and saute for an additional minute.
- Add the broth, pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, and corn to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in hot sauce if desired.
- Serve warm by itself or topped with a dollop of sour cream. Of note, this soup is best made at least an hour or two ahead. As it sits, the flavors mingle and develop nicely, making it an ideal make-ahead dish for any occasion.