A recipe from Plant IQ for Peppery Pumpkin, Corn and Bean Soup

Peppery Pumpkin, Corn and Bean Soup

Source: Kirsten Scarcelli

Did you know that January is Soup Month? I have no idea who decided that — likely a soup company wanting to market its product — but here in New England, it’s the perfect time of year for a steaming bowl of soup.

Here’s a bit of soup trivia from Wikipedia.

Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of clay vessels). Animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds were used before this. To boil the water hot rocks were used. This method was also used to cook acorns and other plants.

Portable soup was devised in the 18th century by boiling seasoned meat until a thick, resinous syrup was left that could be dried and stored for months at a time.

Commercial soup became popular with the invention of canning in the 19th century, and today a great variety of canned and dried soups are on the market.

Co-leaders of Plant IQ, Maine

L Karen Coker R Kirsten Scarcelli

Today’s recipe is a delicious homemade soup and it’s courtesy of Kirsten Scarcelli and Plant IQ.

Kirsten is a certified holistic health coach in southern Maine. Her business is called Nourish Yourself Now.

She’s also the co-leader with Karen Coker of a local group called Plant IQ. Karen is a communications consultant and former international broadcast news and documentary producer/writer/reporter.

They are both huge advocates of a plant-based diet and jumped at the opportunity to co-lead Plant IQ. “Plant IQ is a local, independent pod or group that is affiliated with a larger network or grass roots movement called PlantPureNation.” Kirsten told me.

PlantPureNation is a film that came out the summer of 2015, made by Nelson Campbell. He’s the son of T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist who wrote “The China Study.”

The premise of the movie and the book and also the documentary film “Forks Over Knives” is that there is a “weight of scientific evidence that a whole foods plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse some of the most deadly health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.”

As a follow-up to PlantPureNation, Nelson Campbell decided to start a grass roots movement. “To see if he could spread the word and message of whole foods plant- based eating and healthy eating and how it affects us and the planet,” explained Kirsten.

There are now hundreds of local groups or pods around the world, including Plant IQ in Maine.

“We started the group in March 2016,” said Kirsten. “The immediate goal was to get people familiar with whole foods plant-based eating. Part of the culinary philosophy of PlantPureNation and Plant IQ is whole foods plant-based eating that is lower in sugar, salt, and fat and has no added oil.”

One of the ways Plant IQ and other PlantPureNation pods try to connect with people in their communities is to hold monthly potluck dinners. Plant IQ holds one the last Thursday of the month at Woodfords Congregational Church in Portland. “It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out on your journey or you’re a seasoned pro,” said Kirsten.

You can bring a dish to share or not. If you do it has to be based on the PlantPure model. The idea is to bring people together to share a meal and enjoy some camaraderie. It’s also an opportunity to taste something new and different and learn how to cook and eat whole foods plant-based meals.

If you’d like to attend but don’t know what to make, need something to take to another potluck or just want to cook something hearty and healthy for your family, here’s a recipe for Peppery Pumpkin, Corn and Bean Soup. Comforting on a cold winter’s day and just in time for Soup Month!

For more information about Plant IQ in Maine, check out its Facebook group. The next potluck is Thursday, January 26 at 6 pm at Woodfords Congregational Church, 2nd floor.

Peppery Pumpkin, Corn and Bean Soup

Courtesy Kirsten Scarcelli and Plant IQ

This recipe has some serious flavor and is definitely on my rotation list. Call it soup, call it stew, it is delicious. Cayenne and various spices give it a bit of a kick, the pumpkin adds sweetness and creaminess to this soup. Enjoy!

Serves approx. 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3-4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 15 oz.can pure pumpkin puree (make sure NOT to buy pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, no salt added, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups frozen fire roasted corn, thawed
  • 1 14.5 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth, (homemade or low-sodium store-bought) or more as needed
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (optional)


  1. Heat a large soup pot to medium high heat.
  2. Add a little bit of water or vegetable broth and sauté shallots for 4-5 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two.
  4. Stir in all the spices until incorporated.
  5. Add remaining ingredients, except Dijon mustard.
  6. Bring to a boil, add lid and reduce heat to medium-low.
  7. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent soup from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  8. If you want a really thick soup leave off the lid or add more vegetable broth for a thinner consistency.

A couple of minutes before cooking time is done, stir in the Dijon mustard. Adjust to taste. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/spicy-pumpkin—corn-soup. 

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.