There is no definitive recipe for pumpkin soup, but almost all recipes share the same basic outline: Combine cooked pumpkin with liquid to thin, heat and serve. All the rest is embellishment. You may puree the pumpkin before combining with the extra liquid, or you can cook the pumpkin in the liquid until soft, then puree them together. Pumpkin is extremely high in vitamin A and also a good source of vitamin C.
Starting With Raw Pumpkin
If you're starting with a whole raw pumpkin -- preferably a varietal intended for pie --- you first must peel the outer shell. Use a large sturdy knife or cleaver for this task. Once you have removed the peel, chop the pumpkin flesh into large chunks. Put these in a pot with chicken or beef stock or water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the chunks of pumpkin flesh are tender. Puree in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the mixture directly in the pot. Season with salt and pepper, reheat as needed and your humble pumpkin soup is ready to serve. You can substitute other winter squashes such as butternut or acorn for the pumpkin.
Starting With Cooked Pumpkin
You can make pumpkin soup with canned pumpkin puree but do not use pumpkin pie filling here. Or you may halve the pumpkin or other winter squash, bake it in the oven until tender, then scoop out the soft flesh and mash it. Blend the cooked pumpkin with beef or chicken stock or water, heat, and season with salt and pepper for a basic but fulfilling pumpkin soup.
Pumpkin Soup Seasonings
Pumpkin soup is satisfying when prepared simply but it also takes well to a wide variety of seasonings. Add spices near the end of cooking and simmer briefly to marry the flavors. Pumpkin combines well with warm spices such as ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Curry powder also complements pumpkin nicely, and chili peppers and hot sauce play well with pumpkin. Pumpkin soup may be seasoned with fresh herbs such as thyme, sage or rosemary.
Pumpkin Soup Garnishes
Top your bowl of pumpkin soup with croutons or toasted pumpkin seeds. Diced apples or pears cooked in butter make for a sweetly rewarding garnish. Alternatively, sprinkle some fried sage leaves atop the soup. A small swirl of walnut oil adds a welcome woodsy note to the finished soup. You could garnish a pumpkin soup with a few curls of fresh Parmesan or a small amount of crumbled bacon.
Other Pumpkin Soup Additions
If you're starting with raw pumpkin, you might saute garlic, onions or leeks before adding the pumpkin chunks and liquid to the pot; puree them together for added flavor. You can add a swirl of creme fraiche, heavy cream, sour cream, plain yogurt or whole milk to the soup near the end of cooking to make a pumpkin cream soup. Or add some cooked white rice to the finished soup. Another interesting variation worth trying is to add some fresh orange juice to the soup near the end of cooking.