Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

I just could not let another fall day go by without talking about pumpkins and making something pumpkin in the kitchen.  Just the word pumpkin seems to evoke a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, with all the images it conjures of fall and harvest and food and thankful gatherings.

Truly, the first time you see a pumpkin patch each fall, dotted with bright orange orbs of all sizes, aren't you just a little giddy?  Our fall season is enriched in many ways because of the pumpkin.

Following the Fun Facts and the Nutrition Profile, you will find a fabulous recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Soup.  I think you will love it and it is so easy.  Try it out!

Fun Facts

Other common names for pumpkins are Field Pumpkin and Vegetable Mallow.  Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas. Pumpkin flowers are edible.  According to Wikipedia, canned pumpkin is often recommended by veterinarians as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats that are experiencing digestive problems. The high fiber content helps to aid proper digestion. Raw pumpkin can be fed to poultry, as a supplement to regular feed, during the winter to help maintain egg production, which usually drops off during the cold months.  Pumpkin for pet health.  I love it!

Pumpkins are an iconic symbol of the bounty of harvest.  They are native to the Western Hemisphere, it is believed.  In Colonial days, the pumpkin, or pompion as it was called, was an important food source and was crucial to survival through the hungry winter months.

Pumpkins and squashes of all sorts could be baked or roasted whole in the fire, cut up and boiled, or added to soup.  Did you know that if you pour milk in a hollowed out pumpkin and bake it, you will get pumpkin pudding.  I haven't tried it yet, but I intend to!
 An eighteenth-century pumpkin by Joseph Plenck.
Pumpkins are also very prominent in folklore and fiction.  Think of  jack-o-lanterns, the Great Pumpkin, Cinderella's carriage, the headless horseman in Sleepy Hollow, etc.
  • "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin." -- Linus van Pelt in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Pumpkin Nutrition

Because pumpkins are one of our favorite holiday desserts in the form of pumpkin pie, we might not think of them as the nutritional powerhouse that they are.  Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, both the flesh and seeds of the pumpkin provide many health-boosting nutrients.  


Pumpkin is low in fat and calories and rich in disease-fighting nutrients such as:

  • Alpha-carotene
  • Beta-carotene
  • Fiber
  • Vitamins C and E
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Pantothenic acid

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

The alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are potent antioxidants found in pumpkin and are pro-vitamin A carotenoids, meaning the body converts them to vitamin A. Vitamin A promotes healthy vision and ensures proper immune function. The beta-carotene in pumpkin may also reverse skin damage caused by the sun and act as an anti-inflammatory. Alpha-carotene is thought to slow the aging process and also reduce the risk of developing cataracts and prevent tumor growth. Carotenoids also boost immunity and lessen the risk of heart disease.

Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber; one-half cup serving contains 5 grams of fiber. Fiber helps reduce bad cholesterol levels, protect the body against heart disease, control blood sugar levels, promote healthy digestion, and plays a role in weight loss.

The  vitamin C in pumpkin boosts immunity, reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, and regulates cholesterol levels. Pumpkin is also a good source of vitamin E which promotes healthy skin by protecting the body from sun damage and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and certain cancers.

The potassium found in pumpkin aids in balancing fluid levels in the body, promotes strong bones, is necessary for energy production, and helps to control blood pressure. Pumpkin is also rich in magnesium, which aids the body in hundreds of functions, including promoting a healthy immune system, contributing to bone strength, and normalizing heart function. Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5 is also found in pumpkin. Vitamin B5 help balance hormone levels and manage stress.

Pumpkin Seeds

While pumpkin flesh is nutrient-rich, pumpkin seeds also contain essential vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and are an excellent plant-based source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Here is a link to pumpkin seed recipes.

Pumpkin Recipes

Here is my giant pumpkin for today's fun!  Wish I had an heirloom pumpkin, but this one will do.  


All the ingredients for Spicy Pumpkin Soup are pictured here.  Other than cutting and cleaning the pumpkin, this is a very easy recipe.  And fear not, you can use canned pumpkin puree, if you're not up for using a whole fresh pumpkin.  However you will miss a lot of the fun if you just open a can!

Spicy Pumpkin Soup


  • 4 Tbsp unsalted organic butter
  • 2 medium yellow or purple onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 3 (15 oz) cans 100 percent pumpkin or 6 cups of chopped roasted pumpkin*
  • 5 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)**
  • 2 cups of organic milk (optional)
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
(If soup is too spicy, add 1/2 cup cream to calm it down.  If you want it sweeter, you could add 1/2 cup of organic brown sugar)

To make pumpkin purée, cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie it face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.


1 Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more.
2 Add pumpkin and 5 cups of chicken broth; blend well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
3 Transfer soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan.
4 With the soup on low heat, slowly add milk if desired, while stirring to incorporate.  Add salt and adjust seasonings to taste. If a little too spicy, add some cream to cool it down.

Serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle the top of each with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Serves 8.

Well, I have a lot of this pumpkin left over.  Soon I will post more pumpkin recipes that are simple as well as simply delicious!

PS:  They are also all gluten-free, but don't tell the wheat-lovers and they will never know!


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