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With the days becoming cooler and autumns here this is one of my favorite fall soups. It offers a bit of sweet and spice. Pumpkins provide a great source of Vitamin A, flavonoids and antioxidants – lutein, xanthin and carotenes. Not to mention pumpkin is low in calories and high in fiber providing only 50 calories per cup with 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

The red lentils pack a punch as well, providing a great source of plant protein, fiber and folate. The spices in this recipe, specifically garlic, pepper, cilantro, cumin, and cinnamon have been shown to provide antioxidants and nutrients that may help combat inflammation and aging, improve memory and digestion among many other benefits.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ large onion, coarsely chopped

¾ cup carrot, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup dried small red lentils

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground red or white pepper

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt

6 tablespoons unsalted pumpkin-seed kernels

6 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

1. Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and carrots to pot; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in broth, lentils, cumin, cinnamon, and ground pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.

2. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup mixture until about 3/4 of the mixture is fairly smooth. This effect can also be created by putting about 1/2 or 3/4 of the mixture into a blender and blending until smooth, then adding the blended mixture back into the pot with the unblended soup mixture.

3. Over medium heat, add pumpkin, ginger, and lemon juice to the mixture; additional water can be added if a thinner consistency is desired. Cook 3-5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. 4. Divide soup evenly between 6 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt, 1 tablespoon pumpkinseeds, and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Serve hot.

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