This creamy pumpkin soup is a healthy fall-inspired recipe. You’ll want to prepare a big batch during the holidays to serve as a warm appetizer or for meal planning throughout the week.
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Pumpkins aren’t just for making jack-o-lanterns! Their bright orange flesh is packed with healthy nutrients, and it makes an excellent base for soup. The starchy flesh has a neutral flavor with a hint of sweetness. I roast them first to caramelize the natural sugars and to develop more flavors. Plus, once out of the oven, it’s much easier to scoop out the flesh.
To enhance the soup taste, I add sauteed fruits and vegetables. And to create a velvety texture, I use an immersion blender to puree everything right in the pot. A combination of herbs and spices creates a beautiful aroma. Pumpkin soup is the perfect appetizer for those chilly nights. You can even make the recipe in advance and just warm up a bowl to enjoy all week long.
Sugar Pie pumpkins have a mild flavor, hint of sweetness, and creamy texture when processed. I use them to make homemade pumpkin puree. Their petite size makes them easy to cut and shortens their roasting time to about 30 minutes.
Grab two pumpkins that are about 1 ½ to 1 ¾ pound each. This size will yield about 4 cups of flesh. You can use other pumpkins types like kabocha squash, although their lighter color flesh will change the soup’s appearance. To make this recipe year-round, you can even use butternut squash. Just halve and roast them.
Cut the pumpkins in half
Cutting pumpkin is very simple. Use a sharp chef’s knife to trim off the tough fibrous stem. Carefully use rocking motions to cut straight down into the gourd lengthwise. This process will create two halves. Scoop out the seeds, but don’t throw them away! I like to roast the seeds with olive oil, salt, and pepper for a healthy snack or to use as garnish.
Roast for more flavor
I roast the pumpkin halves in a 400-degree oven. This temperature will quickly tenderize the flesh and brown the cut-sides in contact with the hot baking sheet. The Maillard Browning on the surface adds caramelized flavors, making the meat sweeter without adding sugar.
Make sure to brush with olive oil and season with salt to deepen the savory notes. Once you can easily poke a knife into the skin, they are ready. It only takes about 30 minutes, and in the meanwhile, you can prep the other ingredients.
Saute the vegetables
I find a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot works well to make the soup. To build a more exciting flavor base, I add plenty of aromatics. Saute diced onions in olive oil only until translucent. This process brings the sugars to the surface, elevating the sweetness of the allium. Minced garlic, chopped thyme, and rosemary briefly cook in the hot oil as well to extract their fat-soluble flavors.
Apples are a surprise element in pumpkin soup. I learned this ingredient trick in culinary school to add flavor dimension. The malic acid in the fruit helps to balance the sweetness and enhance the pumpkin flavor. You can use any type of apple. However, I gravitate towards Fuji or Honeycrisp when in season because they’re very sweet, juicy, and tart.
If you enjoy a more sour taste, use Granny Smith. The fruit gets chopped up, sauteed, and simmered until tender. This process makes it easiest to blend. I also like how the skin provides more nutrients and fiber.
Puree the soup
To create a thick and creamy soup consistency, I use a handheld immersion blender to break down the ingredients. Once the roasted pumpkin and vegetable stock is added to the pot, puree until smooth and homogenous.
I like the blender size because it’s portable and I can process with it in the same large pot. Make sure to hold the blender perpendicular to the bottom, moving in circular motions. This technique will prevent the hot soup from splattering.
Make it creamier
To finish the soup, add in heavy cream. It contains at least 36% fat, providing a satisfying richness. The extra milk fat will create a velvety consistency. When the cream is pureed into the pumpkin, the fat traps more air into the soup. The texture is hearty but not too thick. You can always adjust the consistency with more vegetable stock.
Add bold pumpkin spices
Pumpkin puree can taste bland on its own. I add a 5-ingredient spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves to add warm baked notes, without it tasting like dessert.
You can use store-bought pumpkin pie spice as a convenient option, but I like to make a big homemade batch to have in my pantry during fall and winter. You can even add curry powder for a deeper spice flavor and Asian twist or pure maple syrup for a sweeter taste.
Serve this with
Use the tender and starchy flesh. Roasting the pumpkin halves makes it easy to scoop out the meat from the fibrous skin. This method also adds more caramelized flavors than just peeling, cutting, and cooking on the stovetop.
Yes, you can use canned pumpkin, not the pie filling, to make the soup for convenience. Measure out 4 cups for the recipe.
If you want to make the recipe vegan, use unsweetened canned coconut milk with a similar consistency. Mix the coconut milk well before using it. The cream typically floats to the top, separating from the liquid on the bottom.
Yes, after sauteing the apples, you can puree everything in a countertop blender. Make sure to work in batches, not filling the cup over halfway. The soup will be hot, so remove the fill cap on the lid and place a towel over it to prevent splashing. Add the soup back to the pot and stir in the heavy cream and spices.
Absolutely! Since the recipe includes a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, each serving is packed with flavonoids like beta-carotene and lutein in the orange flesh. It also has soluble and insoluble fiber (from the apple skin). Pumpkin has various health benefits and is high in potassium, rich in magnesium, and a good source of vitamin C.
How to make the pumpkin more flavorful
Fresh pumpkin has a very mild flavor that can taste bland if just simmered in stock. While roasting the pumpkins, the Maillard Reaction creates new flavors when the surface browns at around 300-degrees. It’s best to place the cut-sides down for maximum contact with the hot pan.
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- 3 pounds sugar pie pumpkins, about 2 pumpkins
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 cup yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, or ¼ teaspoon dried
- 1 cup fuji or honeycrisp apple, ½-inch dice
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock, or broth, divided
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Wash and thoroughly dry the pumpkins. Place them on a sturdy cutting board. Use a chef’s knife to remove the stem, then cut in half lengthwise.
- Use a large spoon to remove the seeds. If desired, wash, separate and dry the seeds for roasting later.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Grease with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, use a paper towel to spread evenly.
- Brush the flesh of the pumpkin halves with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Place the pumpkin cut-side down and evenly spaced on the baking sheet.
- Roast until a knife can easily pierce into the flesh, about 30 to 35 minutes depending on the size.
- Allow the pumpkins to cool until easy to handle. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl, it should yield about 4 cups of flesh.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, saute until fragrant and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add minced garlic, thyme, and rosemary, saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the apples, saute for 5 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, ¾ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the apples are soft and tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Add the roasted pumpkin flesh and 2 cups of vegetable stock. Using a hand immersion blender, puree until smooth.
- Add the heavy cream, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, then puree until smooth. Add more vegetable stock if needed to thin. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Before serving, reheat the soup over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Garnish with a drizzle of cream, black pepper, and thyme leaves.
- Recipe Yield: About 6 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Using Pumpkin Pie Spice: Substitute cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves for store-bought pumpkin pie spice or homemade blend.
- Pumpkin Substitutes: Kabocha squash or butternut squash.
- Using Canned Pumpkin: Use 4 cups of canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling).
- Make it Vegan: Substitute unsweetened canned coconut milk for the heavy cream.
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