Some people have always understood that soup can be easy. I've just never been one of them. I've found myself on more than one occasion eating lunch with a friend who packed leftover soup — incredibly delicious-looking soup they'd just casually "whipped up" the night before. What was this sorcery? Doesn't soup involve lots of chopping and simmering and layering of flavors?
Apparently not, as I discovered while working on this easy pumpkin soup. Pumpkin soup is what we all crave come October, but the idea of starting with an actual pumpkin? I'll pass. The shortcut was obvious — canned pumpkin — but would it taste as good? The answer is a resounding yes, and I'll tell you just how to do it.
Elevate Canned Pumpkin with Sweet and Savory Add-Ins
Think of this soup as one step up from buying a box of pumpkin soup at the store. You're still using a grocery store shortcut (canned pumpkin), but you get total control over the flavor, and it's ready in less time than a trip to the supermarket.
Canned pumpkin is kind of blah on its own, so you need to give it a little love in the form of spices, fresh herbs, and a hint of something sweet.
- Spices: You're likely used to pairing pumpkin with warming fall spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, but save those for pumpkin bread. If I'm enjoying a pumpkin dish for dinner, I like to amp up the savory flavors and add a bit of heat, which is why in this recipe you'll find earthy, smoky cumin, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and spicy ground ginger.
- Fresh herbs: A fresh herb brings homemade soups to life and sets them apart from anything you buy at the store. I like fresh thyme, because it requires the least amount of prep — just strip the leaves from the stems and throw the whole leaves into the soup. Save a few for garnish, too.
- Maple syrup: Just a drizzle of maple syrup gives this soup the perfect sweet and savory balance, as well that signature caramel-y flavor.
The Trick to Creamy Soup Without Getting Out the Blender
Starting with a can of pumpkin not only lets you skip all the pumpkin prep work, but it also means you don't have to purée the soup to smooth out chunks of pumpkin.
In order to still add onion and garlic without needing the blender, you'll want to chop the onion as finely as you can and grate the garlic on a Microplane. (You can also grate the onion on a box grater; you'll just want to be sure and squeeze out any extra liquid before adding it to the pot). Stirring in a splash of heavy cream just before serving doesn't hurt, either.
If you're looking for a super-smooth and silky soup, of course you can always blend the soup with an immersion blender or transfer it to a blender.
How To Make Pumpkin Soup in 20 Minutes
Prep time: 5 minutes ; cooking time: 20 minutes
What You Need
medium yellow onion, very finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can
pumpkin purée (about 2 cups)
fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
freshly ground black pepper
low-sodium vegetable broth
Toasted pumpkin seeds and flaky sea salt, for serving (optional)
Chef's knife and cutting board
Cook the aromatics. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the pumpkin and spices. Add the pumpkin purée, thyme, salt, cumin, black pepper, ginger, and cayenne pepper and cook over medium-low until steaming and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add the vegetable broth. Add the vegetable broth and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. (The mixture will bubble.)
Add the maple syrup and cream. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup and heavy cream. (At this point, for a creamier soup, you can use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to purée until it reaches your desired consistency).
Garnish and serve. Serve warm, garnished with the pumpkin seeds, flaky salt, fresh thyme leaves, and more black pepper.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.