Spiced Pumpkin Soup (with butternut squash and harissa paste)
With temperatures dropping in the UK, it was only a matter of time before we started living on soups again. We could even go the extra mile and say that we are soup aficionados, so keen that sometimes we have soups in summer as well – given that the summer over here is not exactly tropical, which makes the task fairly easy.
We also happened to have an embarrassing number of squashes laying on the kitchen counter that we got repeatedly from Oddbox and never used over the months (and as usual, if you want to give Oddbox a try, you can get £10 off through our referral link, we will get £10 off as well), so it was clear that we couldn’t put that off anymore.
Let’s start with a premise: Jake is not the biggest fan of butternut squash. He finds it too sweet and can only have so much before getting tired of it for months. This made our collection of butternut squashes even more dangerous, as one misstep could have caused all of our squashes to be forgotten on the counter forever. But guys, I succeeded. He absolutely loved it and said, I quote, “I can’t wait to have it again for lunch tomorrow”, which is quite a big deal when it comes to butternut squash for him.
So without further ado, let’s dig into this recipe for a warming, spiced roasted pumpkin soup. We used butternut squash, but you can use any type of pumpkin (just adjust the weight to make sure the proportion are right). You can also make this completely vegan, just choose the vegetable stock over the chicken stock and you’ll be good to go.
Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Butternut Squash and Harissa
- Immersion blender
- 1 squash (peeled and cubed, approx. 500g)
- 2 carrots
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tsp fresh ginger (minced)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (crushed)
- 2 tbsp rose harissa paste
- 5 cups stock (vegetable or chicken, if you don't need this to be vegan)
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander
- Start by peeling and dicing your butternut squash or pumpkin of choice and your carrots. And save the pumpkin seeds!
- Cover with 1 tbsp of olive oil and add thyme and rosemary. Cook for 30 minutes at 220°C/430°F.
- While the vegetables are in the oven, proceed to dice the onion and mince garlic and ginger.
- Heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil in a big pot and add the diced onion. Cook for 15 minutes over low heat.
- Add the minced garlic and ginger. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the cumin, crushed cumin seeds, and harissa paste. Cook for a further 1 minute.
- Add the roasted pumpkin and carrots to the pot and add the stock and dark soy sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven at 175°C/345°F for 10 minutes.
- Once the soup is ready, blend it. Top with the roasted pumpkin seeds, chopped fresh coriander and the remaining olive oil.
Spiced Pumpkin Soup: the perfect winter warmer
Soups soups soups! Nothing better than a nice, comforting soup when it’s freezing outside (especially to be November) and you don’t really want to cook that much because that would mean getting your blanket off. This spiced pumpking soup recipe can be easily scaled up for the next day or two, or you can just batch cook it and have it in the freezer for days when you’re either coming home late, are in a rush, or simply don’t want to cook.
The beauty of this dish is that is not your traditional pumpkin soup. Nothing wrong with the classics, but sometimes they can be just a bit… plain. While we do love all comfort food, sometimes we feel the need to elevate it a bit more, and the spices used in this pumpkin soup recipe really hit the spot. So let’s talk a bit about them:
- Fresh thyme and rosemary: listen, I know that it’s just so much easier to have dried spices. They take less space and last virtually for years. But the difference that fresh thyme and rosemary make on every single dish… Well, you can’t recreate that. Just buy a few sprigs, roll them in some kitchen towel, and leave it in the fridge. We’ve had thyme there for months and it’s still good and 10x better than our dried thyme.
- Freshly grounded cumin seeds: I used to hate cumin. To death. And now, it’s the spice we buy more often together with smoked paprika. Freshly grounded cumin seeds have a stronger, punchier taste than its ready-grounded alternative, so keep this in mind when you use it. However, my hummus is never been as good as when I make it with freshly gounded cumin seeds, so consier the “investment” in a pestle and mortar.
- Rose Harissa Paste: if you never tried harissa paste, I’d recommend starting with this Belazu one – you can find it in supermarkets occasionally, but if not, try Sous Chef. It makes a massive difference. You can also use it to marinate steaks, chicken, or just as a dip. Once you go Rose harissa paste, you never come back.
- Fresh ginger and garlic: for the love of god, do not buy garlic and ginger paste. Not just the combined version, but the single ones as well. I don’t care how much you hate peeling garlic or how much you use it, so it’s easier to buy the ready-made one. It doesn’t bring as much flavour to your dish and you’ll be missing out. Ideally, you should avoid a garlic press too (and this is something I learned from Anthony Bourdain himself, from his Kitchen Confidential). Consider either making your own garlic paste or just learn how to deal with it, like I personally did.
Not a single drop of cream: make this pumpkin soup vegan!
Among the (few) advantages of being lactose intolerant, there’s the fact that lots and lots of dishes we make don’t contain any milk or other dairy products. And when we dont’ use meat or eggs, it’s very easy to end up with an accidentally vegan dish like this one here. So easy that we have three of them listed over here. For this specific recipe, we used chicken stock for ours, as we didn’t need this to be vegan and we were out of vegetable stock, but you can pick either or.
Back to the dairy, I struggled so many times with soups like this one, as they often contain heavy or single cream, which is my number one enemy. The beauty of this soup is that the pumpkin will thicken the soup itself, so you don’t have to worry. Just keep an eye on the texture while you blend it to make sure it’s how you want it. You can also add the chicken stock in two batches to make sure that the soup is not too liquid for your taste.
Finally, while all the dark soy sauces that I’ve come across were naturally vegan, it doesn’t hurt to double check that before adding it. You never know.
Want more soup or butternut squash ideas? We got you.
Fancy a spicy, rich Southwestern soup or maybe an Italian classic, say barley soup? We have a range of soups for every need and taste. We were not kidding when we said we were soup aficionados. But if you’re here because you too have a bunch of Oddbox butternut squashes and ran out of ideas on how to use them (roasted squash can only be stretched so far), why not have a look at our accidentally vegan butternut squash quinoa or our beloved butternut squash lasagna?
And if you need more, just refer to our Search function to see all the ways we used butternut squash!