Black Bean Soup


I specifically go to Paradise Bakery, owned by Panera, on Tuesdays because they have black bean soup.  So, I was excited to find a black bean soup favorite soup with a hidden twist.  The smokiness of the black beans and cumin pair well with the sweetness of the pumpkin puree.  Neither flavor is suppressed creating a sweet and savory dish perfect for those cold fall and winter nights.

I recommend making the soup with fresh pumpkin.  Canned pumpkin has added preservatives that change the flavor profiles.  The squash and pumpkin allow for a creamy texture in the soup.  Adding nutmeg creates a sweeter soup; adding jalapenos or adobe chilies creates a spicy soup; adding sour cream on top of the finished product creates a cooling element to the soup.
Photo from Julia

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used homemade pumpkin puree since I pretend to live in fall year round, but the recipe works with butternut squash as well.blackbeanpumpkinsoup2
  2. Be sure to have a food processor.  I had a hand one that worked well, but it left a few chunks.
  3. Use vegetable broth for vegetarians.
  4. Use fire-roasted tomatoes for an extra, southwest flavor blast.
  5. I nixed the shallots because it was difficult to find them at the grocery store.  In place of shallots, substitute extra garlic and onion.
  6. Replace the butter with pam to sweat the onions and bringing out the sweetness.  I suggest using red onions because they are sweeter.
  7. The cumin provides a smoky and spicy flavor reminiscent of many Southwest dishes.
  8. I suggest simmering the soup for only 15 minutes or until it becomes thick.  You do not want to overcook the soup and pumpkin.
  9. Homemade pumpkin will create that soft orange color lightly darkened by the beans
    and tomatoes.
  10. I suggest adding the rest of the black beans from the can into the soup because I enjoy chunky soups.

blackbeanpumpkinsoup3The black bean and pumpkin soup combines my two favorite flavors.  I am obsessed with pumpkin, making everyday fall.  I love that this soup can be made and frozen for a day I need a warm pick-up.  A spicy kick and a sweet ending blend the flavors of fall and the southwest.  Be a cowboy in the kitchen!

Leave a comment with your favorite pumpkin recipes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.


Stuffed Peppers


I love my mom’s stuffed peppers, so this recipe is all “cootoes” to her.  It’s an easy dinner recipe that allows for multitasking on those busy nights or keeping frozen for that day you just need a taste of home.  The recipe hits the nail on the head in all the food groups–carbs, proteins, veggies and fat.  Making the peppers during your famer’s market’s peak allows for the full flavors of the vegetables to stand out.  Enjoy a delicious, comfort meal that your family and friends will love.

You’ll need:

4 Green peppers
1 Package of Jennie O Lean Ground Turkey
Onion (I usually use ½ an onion)
2-16 oz Cans of Tomato Soup
4oz (or less) Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese
Minute Brown Rice (I usually use 1 cup)

The Process:

Step 1: Clean out the peppers.
stuffedpeppersStep 2: Cook the ground turkey and onions stovetop.
Step 3: Combine the turkey mixture in a bowl with the uncooked rice.  Add ½ can of soup and cheese.
Step 4: Stuff the peppers with the mixture.
Step 5: Place the peppers in a microwave bowl with the remaining soup (the peppers should sit in at least half a bath of soup) and sprinkle cheese on top.
Step 6: Microwave on 50% power for 25-30 minutes.  The outside of the pepper should be soft.

The Tips:

  1. Be sure to clean out all of the seeds from the peppers, but only cut the tops off.
  2. Keep the rice uncooked because it will cook in the juices while being microwaved.
  3. Be sure to use tomato soup.  I tried the recipe with tomato sauce once and it was too powerful and overwhelming with a thick consistency.
  4. Be sure to have a big enough cookware that keeps the sauce from spilling over while in the microwave.
  5. Cover the peppers before adding to the microwave with cling wrap, or you’ll have one messy microwave afterwards.

This recipe is my comfort of home in a pepper.  It is simple and easy to make with a flavorful, nutritious meal.  “Cootoes” to my mother for making such a tasty meal microwaveable.

Leave a comment with meals inspired from your mom.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Creamy Tomato Soup


The name says it all.  It’s creamy; it’s tomato; it’s heaven.  Although SkinnyTaste calls this recipe a bisque, it is more of a cream soup.  Bisques are a smooth, creamy, highly seasoned soup of French origin, classically based on a strained broth of crustaceans.  Bisque is a method of extracting every bit of flavor from imperfect crustaceans not good enough to send to market.  Since we are using vegetables, the correct term is a creamy tomato soup.  However, the soft consistency makes it a huge leap above those Campbell soups you have sitting uselessly in
your cabinet.

I loved completing this recipe because I learned some new facts.  For one, tomatoes can be pealed a lot easier than I would have guessed.  If you can’t find that fascinating enough, I got to use my mom’s immersion blender that was heaven to my cooking ears.  Immersion blenders make sure that all the clumps that regular blenders and food processors leave behind are smoothed and completely annihilated.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Plum tomatoes are also known as Roma tomatoes at your local Fry’s.
  2. To peel tomatoes easily, boil them in water until the skin cracks (about 8-10 minutes).  You’ll hear a pop as each skin breaks. creamytomatosoup
  3. As soon as the skin-pops remove them from the water and set aside.  Run them under cold water quickly to cool them and an easy peel.
  4. While you are peeling your tomatoes, cook your veggies to multitask.
  5. We added dried basil and oregano spices into the mix instead of using sprigs.  However, be sure to remove the bay leaves because they won’t taste good if blended.
  6. Allow the soup to simmer and when ready blend it well until no chunks remain.

creamytomatosoup2It’s simple but fascinating.  Apparently, before all of our processed foods at the grocery store people used to make their own marinara sauce using this same method of peeing tomatoes.  I loved watching the process take place.  If there is any other reason besides how creamy and light the soup taste, you should make this dish just for the fun of watching the tomatoes.

And while I am less than a tomato fan, I found this soup to be irresistible.  Pair it with a wheat roll or grilled cheese and you have a wonderful meal during your sick days.  It freezes very well for storing purposes.  Get rid of those over processed cans sitting with dust on your shelves and enjoy a healthier, flavorful soup that you created all on
your own.

Leave a comment below with the fun you had making this dish.  Follow my Pinterest.  Check back again next Wednesday for more meals and tips from The Cooking Bug.