While I was in Portland, I went to lunch with my baby brother and our friend Bill. I’ve written about Bill over the years—in summary, Bill beat leukemia with the help of my stem cells. He’s the toughest guy I know. Now we’re friends who share the same immune system and we finally got to meet a few weeks ago. (More about that here and by the way, you can join the registry over here.)
We shared lunch and an afternoon at Multnomah Falls. It was a damp, gray fall day in the Pacific Northwest and it was perfect.
Bill picked The Picnic House for lunch. You really have to go next time you’re in Portland. “Unique” doesn’t begin to describe it—the restaurant feels like an old school theater inside, with different scenes set up in every corner and amazing food everywhere the eye can see.
I was tempted to order every item on the menu, but after much deliberation, I finally settled on a small soup, salad and sandwich. I might just have to recreate all three of them for the blog (so good), but homemade pumpkin soup seemed most timely.
I can’t say that my version is exactly the same, but it is equally satisfying and fresh, not to mention delicious all on its own right! My roasted pumpkin soup is super creamy (thanks mostly to the pumpkin, with a little help from coconut milk or cream) yet plenty healthy, too. It’s gently spiced, but I made sure that the pumpkin flavor shines above the rest!
This dairy-free and vegan pumpkin soup would be a welcome addition to your holiday table. It would be equally at home with a soup or sandwich from fall through winter. It’s pretty easy to make and the leftovers taste even better the next day, so you could certainly make it one day in advance. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list—this soup only requires basic pantry ingredients!
If you’re looking for more Thanksgiving recipes, this is for you. Happy holidays!
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 1 4-pound sugar pie pumpkin or kabocha squash*
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 large or 6 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- Tiny dash/up to ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, if you like spice)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk or heavy cream, which is not vegan
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, which is not vegan
- ¼ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Carefully halve the squash and scoop out the seeds, reserving them for roasting if you’d like (see note—you won’t need the roasted pumpkin seeds for this recipe).
- Slice each pumpkin halve in half to make quarters. Brush or rub olive oil over the flesh of the pumpkin and place the quarters, cut sides down, onto the baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes or longer, until the orange flesh is easily pierced through with a fork. Set squash aside to cool slightly.
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add onion, garlic and salt to the skillet. Stir to combine.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. In the meantime, peel the pumpkin skin off the pumpkins and discard. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper to the pot, followed by the pumpkin flesh. Use your stirring spoon to break up the pumpkin a bit. Pour in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15, to give the flavors time to meld.
- While the soup is cooking, toast the pepitas in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, golden and making little popping noises. You want them to be nice and toasty, but not burnt. Transfer pepitas to a bowl to cool.
- Once the squash mixture is done cooking, stir in the coconut milk and maple syrup. Remove the soup from heat and let it cool slightly. You can use an emulsion blender to blend this soup in the pot, which you can do no. I prefer to use my stand blender, which yields the creamiest results. Working in batches, transfer the contents pan to a blender (do not fill your blender past the maximum fill line!). Securely fasten the blender's lid and use a kitchen towel to protect your hand from steam escaping from the top of the blender as you purée the mixture until smooth. Transfer puréed soup to a serving bowl and repeat with remaining batches.
- Taste and adjust if necessary (I thought the soup was just right as is, but you might want to add more coconut milk, for extra creaminess/more mild flavor, or maple syrup, to make it a little sweeter.
- Ladle soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle pepitas over the soup and serve.
If you want to use canned pumpkin: I'm pretty sure you can substitute two 14-ounce cans of pumpkin purée. It won't have the depth of flavor that roasted pumpkin would, but it should be delicious nonetheless. Just skip step one and add the pumpkin purée instead of the roasted pumpkin in step three. Let me know if you try this, please!
How to roast pumpkin seeds: Pick off all the flesh bits from the seeds and discard them. I like to do this in a colander under running water. Pat the seeds dry with a tea towel or paper towels. Toss the seeds with a little olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and any other seasonings that sound good (I tossed my pumpkin seeds with 1 teaspoon brown sugar and ½ teaspoon curry powder). Toss to coat. Line a small, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the pumpkin seeds in a single layer. Roast for 13 to 16 minutes, until the seeds are fragrant and toasty.