Naturally creamy, deliciously healthy fresh pumpkin soup needs just one pot, 10 easy ingredients and learning how to cut a pumpkin for cooking without doing mortal harm to yourself (or the pumpkin).
Prepare for the start of the healthy pumpkin soup show!
How to cut a pumpkin for cooking
The first step in making healthy pumpkin soup is getting that getting that darned pumpkin out of its skin and into the pot. Have a look on the ‘ Google machine’ and you’ll discover a bunch of different ways to slice, dice, microwave, underwater pressurize or just overly complicate the process for turning that darling pumpkin that you’ve already drawn a face on into the diced chunks you need for making soup. I follow a pretty basic practice, that goes like this:
- Grab your small pumpkin and give it a good rinse so you don’t carry things onto the cutting board. Get your sharp knife and if need be, sharpen it.
- Cut the pumpkin in half to one side of the stem. Alternatively, you can cut it through the width. It won’t matter for our purposes.
- Grab a spoon and scoop out the seeds and strands. Some folks call this the pumpkin brains and now I just have. Gross.
- Lay your pumpkin halves flat on the board and cut them each in half. Cut around the stem so you remove it.
- Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from each quarter.
- Dice the quarters into cubes (I went for about 1-inch for making soup).
Job done. You now have a board of diced pumpkin and no cute pumpkin face. What’s so great about that?
Putting the ‘health’ into healthy pumpkin soup
When I think of pumpkins, my mind naturally travels to crazy carved faces sitting in windows or on stoops. Turns out pumpkins offer more than just another amusing face. Let’s start out by recalling that they are a kind of squash – food people, not just a candle holder.
The skinny on pumpkin
I was as surprised as anyone to learn that pumpkins are loaded with hidden gems when it comes to nutrient density. Here are my top three favorite facts about 1 cup of pumpkin:
- more vitamin A than a cup of kale
- more potassium than a banana
- more fiber (6 grams) than 1⁄2 cup of quinoa (that kale has about 3 grams)
All this for 40 calories. That’s what makes it nutrient dense – the value for the calorie buck comes down squarely on the side of the pumpkin.
Nutrient dense as ingredients do (or do not)
The concept of nutrient density or nutrient rich is pretty simple, we consider the amount of benefit in terms of nutrition we’ll be getting in proportion to the calories or other detrimental nutrients of the food source. But we only get the bragging rights to the nutrient density of our food, if we keep it in good company. For example, if we dip our 1 cup of diced pumpkin in batter, deep fry them and then add them to our soup, we have disrupted the nutritional force. Any of the positives we get from the pumpkin is negated by all the fat and empty calories of the frying oil.
What makes healthy pumpkin soup healthy?
If we want to get the most out of the goodness of our fresh pumpkin, and honestly call it healthy pumpkin soup, we want to be sure we introduce ingredients that enhance or at least don’t detract nutritional density. It you consider this in the arena of making plant-based soups in general, that’s not so difficult. Any veggie, fruit, legume – any whole food that comes from plants qualifies. Toss in whatever makes you happy.
Basic, but definitely not tasteless
I didn’t go so pumpkin soup fufu for this one. I started by sautéing onions, carrots and celery and then added garlic and just 2 spices (cumin and smoked paprika). I cooked all this without adding oil because oil is a notorious nutritional density detractor. After that, this recipe is a matter of adding tomato paste, broth, beans and of course, that diced pumpkin that’s waiting for us.
I learned a trick with I made Chilean sweet potato stew which is using a wooden spoon to mash the sweet potatoes (pumpkin in this case) to make the dish thicker. It worked like a charm. You want to wait to start mashing until about the last 10 minutes of cooking so the pumpkin smooths out and becomes creamy rather than just splinters into tinier pieces.
Cooking without oil
It’s interesting how your tastes change with your habits. When I first stated cooking without oil, I really thought it was the end. None of my food would ever taste as good. I would never brown another onion. I would be scraping stuck veggies of the bottom of my pots forever. All was lost. But a funny thing happened along the way. Those things didn’t happen, and I got over it.
Oil-free cooking – what to consider
Most of my plant-based soups, stews and curries (ok, a lot of my recipes) start out by sautéing onions or other vegetables. Despite my initial reservations, I’ve discovered that cooking without oil is no problem. That said, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Start on low to medium heat. The kind of pan you use will dictate the distribution and response to heat. This is the place where a good non-stick pan comes in handy. But even if you don’t have one, successful oil-free cooking can be yours. Realize that some pans get really hot, really quick and others hold their heat so if your veggies start to stick, you can’t turn the heat down quick enough.
- Keep a cup of water or veggie broth at the ready to use a tablespoon at-a-time if the veggies start to stick.
- Keep things moving. I can’t say this one enough. Unless you are using super low heat, you’ll need to get involved in that pan action.
- What you’re cooking without oil matters. You can start with 2 onions, purchased at the same time and one will just have more moisture than the other. I know this, it happens to me all the time. I’m over asking why. I just accept it. Ingredients like to express their individuality I suppose. Also, some ingredients such as mushrooms or zucchini may actually require a bit of ‘cooking down’ to get their natural moisture content under control.
- Once you start cooking without oil, you will discover that not only will your pans and sink no longer be covered in oil, but neither will your taste buds. I never thought that would happen to me, but it did. Food started tasting better and cleaner. More importantly, I felt better.
When you make a change, whether it’s cooking without oil or completely changing what you eat, you need time and forgiveness. Time to allow change to become habit, time to adjust to food tasting differently and time to leave the past once and for all. Leaving oil behind made food more enjoyable. Meals are less heavy and dense now. I taste more of the flavors. And isn’t just me. The other day, even my husband commented that our food was so much better without oil.
Along with time, you need forgiveness. So, the pumpkin pieces aren’t perfect – that won’t ruin your healthy pumpkin soup. You went somewhere, ate something that had added oil. Forgive yourself, you’ve not undone all the healthy choices you’ve made. Shake it off, put on the happy face and move forward. Peace.Print
Deliciously healthy fresh pumpkin soup needs just one pot and 10 easy ingredients. Learn how to safely and quickly cut your pumpkin so you can get to soup time even quicker.
- 1 small pumpkin, diced (see instructions in post)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. smoked or regular paprika
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 4 cups brown, pinto, borlotti or other beans of your choice
- 4 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced for garnish
- Heat a medium soup or stew pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sauté the veggies for 5 minutes until they start to soften.
- Add the garlic, cumin and paprika and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the vegetable broth and tomato paste and stir to mix in the tomato paste.
- Add the pumpkin and beans and stir everything together.
- Cover and simmer the stew for about 25-30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. If you want to make the soup a bit thicker, use a wooden spoon to mash some of the pumpkin as it cooks.
- Serve in individual bowls and garnish with sliced scallions or even chopped parsley.
- Nutritional information is based on a small, fresh pumpkin for this recipe.
- You can use a large can of pumpkin for this recipe; however, do not use pumpkin puree unless you want a super creamy soup.
- I used canned brown beans for this recipe, but you can use any you have on hand including pinto beans. Even white or black beans would be great here. Chickpeas would be a bit chunky, but in a pinch – they’re always great.
- Category: Soups & Stews
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: healthy pumpkin soup