Want to know one of my secrets to conjuring up a delicious and nutritious meal? Always be prepared! Okay, so maybe it's not that big of a secret, but having a stocked pantry and fridge makes healthy eating come together that much more seamlessly.
Being prepared especially comes in handy when it's cold outside and a trip to the supermarket sounds far and frigid. This was the situation I was faced with about a week ago, but thankfully could pull together a few ingredients lying behind closed doors to create a dinner (and a few lunches). I encourage you to:
Keep a running inventory of pantry, fridge, and freezer items- think dried and canned beans, canned fish, hearty winter squashes and potatoes, frozen veggies and fruit, and condiments and sauce ingredients
Make a list of versatile fresh and perishable ingredients you need to pick up at the store at the start of the week- the magic word here is versatile (aka things you like and would eat in many forms)
Become best friends with Google and Pinterest for recipe inspiration- type in a string of ingredients that may at first seem like a random assortment that could never turn out tasty and watch these sites turn out delicious recommendations
I ate this soup on what was also Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day and Pi Day (March 14th for all you math neRDs out there), so the only photos I have of this creation are of the soup, plus pie. Try to focus on the soup here, even though there is a chocolate circle of heaven staring at you from the opposite corner!
Kabocha Squash and Pinto Bean Soup- Serves 3-4
2 cups dried pinto beans
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 medium sized carrot, diced
1/2 large kabocha squash, or about 3 cups, cubed (skin left on)
3-4 cups low sodium broth- chicken or vegetable
Cilanto Walnut pesto for topping- 2 handfuls cilantro leaves, 1/2 cup walnut halves, olive oil
Olive oil, salt and pepper, and other dried herbs or spices, to taste
Cook dried beans- place beans in a pot and cover with a few inches of water; cover and let sit in fridge overnight. Alternatively, use the quick soak method by placing beans in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat- let sit for 30 minutes, drain, and continue cooking. To continue cooking after initial soak using either method, drain beans from initial water, then place in pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to a simmer and let cook 30-60 minutes. It's okay if they don't get totally tender after an hour, they'll continue to soften in the soup. or skip this whole step and use low sodium canned beans if that's what you have!
Start to prepare the soup by heating a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add onion and carrot and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
To pot add cubed kabocha squash. Saute for 2 minutes before adding broth. Once broth is added, toss in cooked beans. Cover and bring to a simmer.
While the soup is cooking, prepare the pesto by blending cilantro, walnuts, and olive oil (use your judgement on how much, depending on how thick or thin you desire the sauce) in a food processor. I prefered this sauce a bit more chunky, but feel free to blend until smooth while using more oil as needed.
After 25-30 minutes the squash and beans should have softened. Taste the soup for flavor and add a pinch of salt, a crack of pepper, and I think I remember adding in a shake of ground coriander too- the flavors are up to you!