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).

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Roasting pumpkin time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 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


1 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.

cut sugar pumpkins kabocha squash in half, scoop out seeds, place cut side down on lined baking sheet

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.

roasted sugar pumpkins and kabocha red kuri squash remove peel from roasted pumpkins

Don't throw away the seeds! Toast them for a healthy snack.

2 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.

cook onions in butter add smoked paprika and cumin to onions and garlic

3 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.

cook pumpkin soup

4 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.

puree pumpkin soup

5 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.)

add milk and cream to pumpkin soup

6 Serve! 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.

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  • Kathy

    Great base recipe. I loved the spice blend but increased the quantity of each spice plus nutmeg to make it even spicier and added extra pumpkin/squash purée to make a thicker soup. Super quick to make since I already had cooked pumpkin in the fridge. This recipe is a keeper!


  • Shelley

    I love smoked paprika, but this is way to much. I used: 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic. 1/2 c water, 1c apple, 1c total of half & half, and cream. 1/4 tea cumin 1/4 paprika, about a tlbs of fresh sage & tyme each. Then for a dollop, creme fraiiche mixed with abit of whiskey, just to make it smoother.

  • Emma

    Hi Elise,
    I’ve never been a big fan of the gourd family but this recipe is spectacular! I made the soup for the first time a couple weeks ago and it was such a treat to bring for lunch at work. I really suggest roasting the pumpkin yourself–there’s nothing like the satisfaction of using only the freshest vegetables to prepare a meal. I didn’t add the cream as I found it already rich and smooth. I’m just finishing a three day “cleanse” and I’ve decided to ease my way back into eating by making a second batch of this soup (at my roommates request).
    Thank you so much!


  • FoodJunkie

    I made this yesterday as a first course and it turned out beautifully. I brought some pimenton (smoked paprika) from Spain and hadn’t used it, but it really goes very well with the pumpkin.

    Thank you for a very beautiful site.


  • Susie

    The flavors in this soup were incredible. My husband does not like cream soup. So I chopped up the apples and the onions very fine and added the pumkpkin that I had frozen in the fall to the pot along with the herbs and the wonderful smoked paprika that I purchased at Costco. He also thinks he has to have meat, so I added smoked turkey sausage. After letting it simmer for 20 minutes, this soup was thick and creamy with vegetable and meat bites. He loved the soup without ever knowing it was pumpkin. I left the cream out to reduce the calories. It was great without it. I did put a little in my bowl to see how much it would change the flavor. Both versions were fantastic. I think my comment was, I could die eating this soup and be happy.

  • Chelsea

    Hi Elise,

    This sounds delicious..I’m wondering, my boyfriend can’t really handle cream..Would i be able to substitute soy milk for the milk and cream or maybe do soy milk and half and half so its a little less dairy?

    You could just replace the dairy with more stock. Or water. Or you could try it with soy milk. I’ve not used soy milk as a substitute for regular milk in cooking. But I have made a butternut squash soup without cream and it was fine. ~Elise

  • PB

    Is pumkin soup served hot or cold? What’s typical?

    I would serve it hot. ~Elise

  • Therese

    I had high hopes fot this recipe and was disappointed. I’m so glad I didn’t invite our vegetarian friends to join us. The soup had a lovely, creamy mouth-feel, but the smoked paprika was overpowering and gave the soup a very off flavor. I’ll try it again though with a few modifications, and without the smoked paprika.

    • Genie

      Did you ever try it without the paprika? If so how was it? If modified, what did you use

  • Susan C

    Hi, Elise: Thanks for the great recipe. I made it yesterday. Modified it slightly — used two apples, 4 onions, slightly less paprika, and added a bit more herbs, plus a splash of Salata dressing for a bit of zing, and a bit of sugar to even things out. Also, in place of stock, water, milk and cream, I substituted whey left over from a home-made cheesemaking session, and that added a lovely tang. I used 7 cups of whey, plus some instant veggie broth powder (the good stuff, not the salty Knorr kind), and it was fabulous. Also, I didn’t have to worry about the soup separating. Delicious! Thanks again.

  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Mark – standard pumpkins are better for jack-o-lanterns than they are for eating. Try this with a sugar pumpkin, a kabocha, or a butternut squash.

  • Mark

    I have got a huge tin of smoked paprika that my parents brought back from Spain this year and have been looking for interesting recipes to use it up in. This sounds like the perfect evening recipe, so comforting and warm! mmm! In England pumpkin is something that we don’t see too much of, and it is usually only one or two varieties. It is sadly the same with the squashes too. Could you use a ‘standard’ pumpkin or should I try and hunt down a sugar or kaboucha variety?

  • Wanda

    I had never heard of smoked paprika. So I set off to find some. Well it wasn’t available at the supermarket where I usually shop.

    However I finally tracked some down at a specialty market and gave your recipe a try.
    Absolutely delicious.

  • Sonia

    I make something similar to this recipe using roasted butternut squash…the paprika I use is Pimenton de la Vera from Spain…Wonderful flavor!

  • Garrett

    As someone who tried this soup of hers first hand, let me say that it is amazing. I was literally scraping the bowl for any little remnants of soup. Fantastic!!!

    Note from Elise: Garrett, we love hearing praise like that, you’ll have to come over for lunch more often!

  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Brad – roasting the pumpkin halves does add flavor, but it isn’t necessary. You could cook them in the microwave if you are trying to avoid heating up your kitchen.

  • Brad

    Does roasting the pumpkin add any flavor, or is it purely to get the pumpkin to mashing consistency? Could I microwave the pumpkin chunks instead? This is what I do for my sweet potato pies (mmmm…. it’s almost time for those). It’s just that it’s still air conditioner weather down here in Mississippi, and I jump on any chance to avoid running the oven at 350 for an hour. :)

    I’ve always wanted to try my hand at pumpkin soup, but never been adventurous enough to do it. I’ll have to give this a go. Thanks!

  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Chigiy – We always used to cook up the jack-o-lantern pieces that were carved out. But those pumpkins are raised for their shape and the toughness of their flesh, not for their food quality. The best pumpkins for eating are sugar pumpkins, kabocha, and butternut squash. I think I remember reading that all the canned pumpkin we buy is actually made from butternut squash!