Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

7:46 pm by

What do you get when you combine a super-busy day full of meetings and clients and emails and classes and naughty pets and rainy weather? Inspired to make a fast and yummy soup!

I found this recipe in the I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook (I really do love Trader Joe’s and I swear, if she hadn’t have written it – I would have!), which is made up entirely of recipes using products that can be found at my most favorite store.

This recipe calls for ingredients that pretty much live in my cupboard year ’round (except for the pumpkin, but I stock up when I can), and took less than 45 minutes – 30 of which was just simmering time so I could answer e-mails. (I also heart my laptop. And GMail.) Next time, I’m going to try it in the slow cooker, letting it simmer all day long. Oh. My. Pumpkiny goodness.

Now you know me… I don’t follow directions very well, especially when it comes to recipes (much to Mr’s consternation – he’s always telling me, “Now go write down what you changed before you forget! HURRY!”), so as we sat at the dinner slurping down this amazing soup, he commanded me to get the paper on which the recipe was printed and write the changes down immediately, which I had to do between slurps. So here it is, in all of its amazing soup glory. (PS: It’s gluten-free and, if you omit the ham and use vegetable broth, you’ve got a vegetarian dish.)

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

adapted from the I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook


  • 3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained (I prefer low-sodium black beans)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 1/2 T butter
  • 1/4 c chopped onion (about 1/2 small, use more if you like onions. I do not.)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (use more if you like garlic. I do.)
  • 4 c beef broth
  • 1 large can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, just the plain ol’ puree)
  • 1/2 pound cooked ham or smoked turkey, cubed
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sour cream

In a food processor, coarsely chopped black beans and tomatoes; set aside. You do not need to puree them to mash, just chop ’em really good.

In a stockpot, melt the butter and add onion. Saute on medium low for about 5-6 minutes, or until onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so, then stir in bean-tomato mixture. Season lightly with salt and a little more pepper than salt (I used about 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp pepper). Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring well.

Add broth (heating it up in the microwave makes it easier to blend), about 3/4 of the can of pumpkin and sherry.

NOTE: The sherry is optional, but it really does add a nice kick (the alcohol cooks off, so you only get the flavor and not the “I fed my kids booze soup!” guilt). Although you can use cooking sherry, I prefer very dry sherry – it tends to have more flavor and less, well, yuck than cooking sherry. Now that I think about it, I’ve never actually tasted sherry outside of a recipe… huh.

Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take a little taste – does it need more pumpkin? Throw it in! The original recipe called for a 12-ounce can, and that just wasn’t enough. I like the mild pumpkin flavor married to the black bean tastiness, and ended up using all but about 1/2 cup from the 29-ounce can. You may also want to add more salt and pepper here – and then do what the recipe completely forgot to mention: add the cumin. Simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your soup will be very thick and yummy looking. Like this:

Much can be improved by a swirl of balsamic

That swirl you see is the balsamic vinegar. The original recipe calls for a dash of vinegar, but I am of the opinion that, to paraphrase Ms Austen, much can be improved by balsamic vinegar. Swirl it in (I’d estimate about 1-2T), add the chopped ham and stir well. Let it cook for about 5 more minutes, then remove from heat.

Lonely Sour Cream Needs a Bit of Swirling

Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream. The original recipe called for creme fraiche, which is not a product that normally lives in my refrigerator, so I substituted a quite yummy dollop of sour cream.

Swirl, baby, swirl!

I served it with Parmesan Toasted Garlic Bread. Mr and the boys raved, with the boys fighting over whose description was the best (“that soup wasn’t good, mom. It was AWESOME!” “No, it wasn’t awesome, it was THE BEST SOUP EVER!” “No, it wasn’t the best soup ever, it was…” you get the idea). Best of all, there where leftovers for lunch for both Mr and me – and I’m here to tell you, anything made with beans tastes even better the next day – I can’t wait! :)

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