Easy, Delicious, Cheap – Bean and Lentil Soup with Pumpkin and Spinach

Every fall when I am waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store, my gaze becomes trapped by the recipe magazines displayed in the rack next to the gum and candy. They are always orange; the bright pumpkins or candy corn or sweet potatoes directing me like traffic cones and without fail I find myself paging through the seasonal recipes thinking how delicious everything sounds, how I would love to fill my home with all of this yellow and orange food filled with the flavors of squash, apples, maple, and cinnamon. In reality, I buy an expensive magazine, drool over it, then fail to actually make any of the recipes before fall is over.

This year however, I pulled the magazines out of my cabinet, bookmarked the recipes that looked good, and told myself I really, really would make one this year. My opportunity came last Thursday, when I had taken the day off work because my good friend, Lindsey, is visiting from Portugal and I needed to spend time with her. “Does a pumpkin-lentil soup sound good?” I asked her when I was trying to decide what to cook that night. “Umm, yeah,” she said. Joe got home when I was in the middle of cooking and said he wouldn’t touch it because it sounded weird. (I secretly thought it did, too, but I wanted to try it anyway.)

When Lindsey and I sat down to eat, I found that the soup was hearty and earthy – almost like a bean chili. The pumpkin added a creaminess to it, but it’s taste was very subtle among the cumin and beans. The spinach added just the right amount of brightness to the flavor, and a good texture to keep the soup interesting so every bite was a little different. Lindsey enthusiastically said that she liked it a lot (despite her confession that she had agreed earlier only because it sounded “healthy”) and asked for the recipe so she could make it for her husband back in Portugal. “Please taste some,” I asked Joe – and when he acquiesced, he admitted that it was a lot better than he thought it would be and agreed that I should make it again. Given how easy it is to throw together, I will definitely add this one to the weeknight recipe book.

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Pumpkin-Bean Soup – adapted from Taste of Home
serves 6

3 c water
3 c reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2/3 c dried lentils, rinsed
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp, dried oregano
1 can (15oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 c chunky salsa
1/2 tsp salt
5 c fresh spinach, lightly packed

1.) In a large stockpot, bring water, broth, lentils, garlic, cumin, and oregano to a boil. Cook, covered, over medium heat until lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes.

2) Stir in beans, pumpkin, salsa, and salt until blended; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Stir in spinach; cook until wilted, 3-5 minutes.

Serve!

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