I can’t remember which year my mom began cooking pumpkin soup for Thanksgiving, but I also can’t remember a Thanksgiving without it. When I left home and began my own fall traditions, this was the sole recipe I asked for. When I bought the ingredients to cook it myself for the first time, I had to reread the recipe card a few times. It was that easy?
If you’re competent at chopping an onion, this creamy, complex soup can come together in 10 minutes or less of active cooking time. The rest is simmering and occasional stirring—and plenty of sampling, to check on the spice levels, of course. It begins with the base of any good fall soup: generous butter, onions, garlic, and comforting spices like coriander and curry. In goes a can of pureed pumpkin (do not even think about fresh; it would be a mess not worth your trouble), a quick whirr of the immersion blender, and soup is ready in about an hour.
I’ve always served this as the soup course or a side to Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s truly light enough to make for dinner now as the autumn is just sliding into crispness. It lacks the nap-inducing heft of a stew or the fibrous bulk of lentil soup; the pumpkin effect is actually quite light, sweet, and earthy. You can adjust the spices to your liking, adding more kick from curry or red pepper, or even playing with the additions of garam masala. And because it’s so easy, there’s no reason to save it for holidays.
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course
- 1/4 cup (one stick) butter
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
- 3 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth, for vegetarian version)
- 1 (15-oz.) can solid packed pumpkin
- sour cream and chives for garnish
In large saucepan, melt butter, then sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add curry powder, salt, coriander, and red pepper, cook one minute. Add broth and boil gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Stir in pumpkin and half and half and reduce heat slightly, cook five minutes. Using immersion blender or pouring in batches into a regular blender (careful with the hot liquid), blend until creamy.
Serve warm, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and chopped chives.