I often play association games in my mind. Like, things that associate with autumn? Apart from the obvious red and yellow leaves, blazing sunsets and rainy or windy days? It’s apple picking and apple ciders, hiking and knitting, sitting by the fire (and the smell of it), carving pumkins for Halloween and trick-or-treating, wrapping up in chunky scarves… But most of all, at least in my mind, autumn is about pumpkin soups. To me, nothing screams more of autumn than a bowl of mellow, warming pumpkin soup.
With that being said, I find it interesting that I have never had a pumpkin soup before. For some reason, the idea of making soup is daunting. So every year when we bought pumpkins, as a solid symbol of October and Halloween, I would intend to make a pumpkin soup, but instead it would be sitting on my kitchen counter for days (mainly because I enjoy the sight of it in my kitchen) while I research every possible recipe of a pumpkin soup, and in the end I would simply resort to making a chickpea and pumpkin curry.
This October, however, after a bad bout of virus, I couldn’t eat anything other than soups for over a week. I tried a couple of store-bought soups, which were nothing special at best, and as soon as I could stand up and move around I decided it was time to be brave and finally cook that soup (laugh all you want – I can easily make sushi or make a New York cheesecake, but soups seem like a lot of work).
Thinking back, I don’t know what exactly I was dreading. It’s not a rocket science to make a soup, especially pumpkin soup. The hardest part of pumpkin soup is peeling and chopping the pumpkin – but this is not something I haven’t done before. So if you are ok with the idea of wrestling the peel off the pumpkin then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Let’s get down to the recipe!
The Perfect Pumpkin Soup
[Vegan + Gluten Free]
Prep time: 20 min | Cooking Time: 25 min | Serves: 4 to 6 people
- One culinary pumpkin (about 2kg whole)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 can coconut milk (I used light; a full fat will make a creamier soup)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock (depends on how thick you want it)
- Salt, freshly ground black pepper and white pepper to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil (for sautéing – you can use water)
- Peel the pumpkin (easier when cut in quarters first), remove the seeds* and chop it into 1 in cubes. Coarsely chop the onion and garlic.
- Add a little oil to a big pot and turn on medium-low heat. Gently sauté onion and garlic for a few minutes, until golden and aromatic, but not burnt.
- Add the pumpkin, salt, cayenne, black and white pepper and give it a good stir.
- Add in a can of coconut milk and 1.5 to 2 cups vegetable stock. Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Once the liquid starts bubbling, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, removing any froth that forms at the top with a skimming spoon.
- When the pumpkin is soft and breaks easily with a fork, it is ready to be blended into soup. You can blend it as it is, or what I like to do is to scoop 2 to 3 ladles of broth into a cup and then start blending the soup. If it is too thick, gradually add the removed liquid back into the pot until the soup reaches the right consistency.
- As the last step, I like to add some more freshly ground pepper into the now blended soup and give it a good stir.
*Tip: don’t throw out the seeds. Clear the debris, wash the seeds in a colander, dry them and spread on a paper towel to dry further. Shell the seeds directly before use. This way they keep the nutrients better and stay fresh for longer.
As it turned out, pumpkin soup is an amazingly comforting thing. It goes great for a healthy lunch or for a light, mellow dinner.
Pumpkin is quite versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. It can also be given a variety of tastes depending on the spices and herbs used. You can add ginger to make it a little more zingy, or you can add curry powder to add more warmth to the soup.
Whatever way you choose, pumpkin soup is nutritious and great for adding warmth and comfort to cold and rainy autumn days.