Do you like cooking with smoked paprika? I first encountered smoked paprika in a kumara sweet potato soup in New Zealand years ago. It's a wonderful spice to pair with winter squash or sweet potatoes.
What Is Smoked Paprika?
Like chipotle, smoked paprika can add a delightful smoky dimension to food. It's make from peppers that have been dried, smoked over a wood fire, and ground into a powder. It's not spicy, but adds a smoky depth to any recipe in which its used.
Smoked paprika is perfect with this rich and creamy pumpkin soup. This spice has gained popularity in recent years, so you should be able to find it in the spice aisle of most grocery stores or online.
Whole Pumpkin or Canned Pumpkin?
This soup can be made with either a whole pumpkin that you prepare yourself or with canned pumpkin.
Don't be intimidated by roasting your own pumpkin! It's easy and the flavor is more interesting than canned pumpkin purée.
Look for sugar pumpkins or Japanese kabocha pumpkins to roast. The kind of pumpkins sold at most grocery stores for carving into jack o'lanterns are not meant for cooking, so read the labels carefully.
To roast it, all you have to do is cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds (which you can turn into a tasty snack), and then roast the halves until they're soft all the way through. Scoop out the flesh from the skins and you're ready to make soup.
How to Thin (or Thicken) Your Soup
After making this soup, if you'd like it to be a little thinner, just stir in some extra broth or water. Taste to check the seasonings again, and add more salt if needed.
On the other hand, if you'd like a thicker soup, you can either add more pumpkin purée if you have it, or add a cup of two of puréed cooked white beans. You can also add a few slices of fresh bread, let them soak in the broth, and then purée them into the soup. Again, check the seasonings before serving.
Can This Pumpkin Soup Be Made Ahead?
This soup can be made the day before serving. Reheat gently over low heat until steaming.
Pumpkin soup also makes great leftovers and can be kept refrigerated for about a week.
Can This Soup Be Frozen?
Want to make a big batch for the freezer? This pumpkin soup freezes beautifully, even with the milk and cream. Just transfer it to freezer containers (or use freezer bags, like this), and freeze for up to three months.
To reheat, you can either let it thaw in the fridge over night or pop the frozen soup right into a sauce pan. Either way, reheat over low heat until steaming. If it seems to separate, just purée it again in the blender until smooth.
What to Serve With Pumpkin Soup
More Fall Soups With Winter Squash
- Curried Squash and Pear Soup
- Pumpkin Chili
- Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
- Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup
- White Bean Soup with Ham, Pumpkin, and Chard
Creamy Pumpkin Soup With Smoked Paprika
Most pumpkins in the store are meant for jack-o-lanterns, not eating. Use a sugar pumpkin, a Japanese Kabocha pumpkin, or Red Kuri squash if you are going to cook with it. Use 2 small (2 to 2 1/2 pound) pumpkins or one heftier one (4 to 5 pounds).
- 4-5 pounds of cooking pumpkins (see Recipe Note), or 3 (15-ounce) cans of pumpkin purée
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped, about 2 cups
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 to 3 teaspoons smoked paprika, more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 large tart green apple (Granny Smith) peeled, cored, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option, and gluten-free broth for gluten-free version)
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Handful of toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) for garnish
Roast the squash:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut your pumpkin(s) in half, and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff (an ice cream scoop works well for this purpose). Lay the halves face down on a foil or silicone lined baking sheet and bake until soft, about 45 min to an hour.
Cool, remove the peel, scoop out the flesh. You'll need 6 cups roasted pumpkin for this recipe; freeze whatever you don't use for future use.
Don't throw away the seeds! Toast them for a healthy snack.
Cook the onions with the seasonings:
Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Add smoked paprika, ground cumin, and cayenne and stir for a minute more.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer:
Add the chopped apple, pumpkin, broth, water, thyme, and ground sage. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through.
Purée the soup:
Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender or a food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée.
If you want extra smooth soup, pass the purée through a food mill, after it's been through the blender.
Stir in the milk and cream:
Return the soup to the saucepan over low heat. Slowly add the milk and cream, stirring to incorporate.
Taste and add additional salt or other seasonings if needed. (Since I use unsalted homemade stock, I add about 2 teaspoons of salt to this soup.)
Sprinkle with toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) and a little more smoked paprika to serve.
This soup can be made a day ahead. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for about a week, or frozen for up to three months.