Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Soup and Picnic in the Park

There's not much more picturesque than having a picnic in the park with a lifelong friend on a beautiful, sunny Fall day.

Picnic in the park with Kim
This weekend my friend Kim came to visit me from Nashville, and we spent the weekend catching up, shopping, and yes, having a picnic in the park. It was so much fun relaxing and enjoying being outside, and we both agreed that catching up in person is far better than talking on the phone. Plus it was extra nice having a visitor since John was out of town this weekend for work.

When Kim arrived Friday night, I had soup and muffins ready for us to enjoy. In January, John and I tried eating clean for a week as a way to reset our healthy eating habits after the holidays. One of the meals I made was this sweet potato and black bean soup. This weekend, I made a similar - but simpler - version with chicken added in.

Pumpkin, Chicken, and Black Bean Soup

Serves 6
2 jalapeno peppers, with seeds if you like some heat
1 large (or two small) green bell pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 tbsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 15 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pot. Cook over medium heat until chicken is done.
  2. Remove chicken from heat and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In the same pot, add 1 tbsp. of olive oil. onion, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. 
  4. Add spices (through cinnamon) and cook about 3 more minutes.
  5. Add pumpkin, jalapenos, bell pepper, chicken, black beans, broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and bring to a boil. 
  6. Let simmer for 25 minutes. 

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins (Gluten-free), Inspired by Savoring the Thyme's recipe
I served gluten free blueberry zucchini muffins on the side... and they didn't taste gluten free to John or Kim, my taste testers!
Makes 18 muffins
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (i.e. Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 tsp. xanthum gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. whole flax seeds
3 eggs
2/3 cup honey
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Zest from half of a lemon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup grated zucchini
1 1/4 cup blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Combine first seven ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs then add the honey, sugar, oil, applesauce, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Whisk together until combined.
  4. Fold in the zucchini and blueberries into the wet ingredients.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold to combine.
  6. Fill each muffin tin 3/4 of the way. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in middle of muffin.

On Saturday after our picnic, Kim and I shopped in the afternoon, had dinner at Yeah! Burger which was delicious (and complete with gluten free buns and toppings), then met up with Erika for a drink at a local restaurant.

On Sunday we walked to the local farmer's market, and Kim got a yummy Danish for breakfast. Before she left, we finished the movie we'd started (Jane Austin's Emma in case you're curious) and sat by the fire. All in all, a wonderful Fall weekend!


  1. Yummmm, that soup looks delish! So glad you and Kimmie had a fun weekend - wish I had been there for this one like the last one!

    1. Wish you could have been here too! It was a great weekend :) And you'd love the soup - it's pumpkin so obviously you would haha

  2. Sounds like so much fun, Steph! Glad you and Kim had a nice weekend. I went hiking and obviously thought of you. The soup sounds delicious--can't wait to try!

    1. Yes, we had a great weekend! I saw some of your hiking pics and it looks gorgeous! I know I would have loved it :)

  3. That soup sounds wonderful! I will definitely be trying that.

    I'm so glad you had some time with good friends this (last) week. What a gift!

    1. Enjoy! And yes, good friends are definitely a sweet gift :)