How to Thicken Pumpkin Soup

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To add bulk and extra flavor to pumpkin soup, use ingredients that complement or match the taste of pumpkins. Flour and cornstarch also thicken soup , but they don't give you layers of flavor like other ingredients. Winter squashes, root vegetables, legumes and rice all give sweet pumpkin another dimension. Add sides to the soup -- crisp green salad and hearty, whole-wheat bread -- and you have a satisfying fall or winter meal.

Thickening Agents

Flour or cornstarch add thickness, but they both taste gummy if you add too much -- a situation that can happen quickly. To use the thickeners:

  • Make a beurre manie paste with 1 tablespoon of soft butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Roll the mixture into a ball and whisk it into the simmering soup for 1 minute. Add additional balls as needed.  
  • Stir 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cooled pumpkin soup in a small cup, add a few tablespoons of the warm pumpkin soup, then add the paste back into the soup pot and stir it into the soup.  

Warning

  • Flour and cornstarch both may turn thin with vigorous stirring or a temperature that gets too hot.

Root Vegetables

Some root vegetables, such as rutabagas and turnips, bring a slight taste of bitterness to the soup, which balances the pumpkin's sweetness. Other vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, add their sweetness along with their additional flavors. The different kinds of sweetness give pumpkin soup deep layers of flavor in the same way that a drizzle of caramel sauce on sweet pineapples or bananas heightens the flavor of the fruits. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup of these vegetables, cooked and mashed with a fork:

  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabagas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnips

Tip

  • Microwave rutabaga for 1 to 2 minutes to make cutting and peeling it more manageable than trying to cut the raw vegetable. Then, cut it into chunks and microwave it in a little water until you can pierce it very easily with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.

Winter Squashes

Winter squashes bring layers of sweet flavor to pumpkin soup in the same way that carrots do, complementing and deepening the sweetness already present in the pumpkin. For a third layer of sweetness, roast the winter squashes before adding them to the soup; their natural sugars caramelize in a hot oven and taste even better than they do with steaming or boiling.

Choose starchy squashes and cook them thoroughly until the flesh is very soft. Puree the flesh and stir in 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cups into the soup for thickening. These squashes work well for thickening:

  • Acorn
  • Butternut
  • Calabaza
  • Kabocha
  • Sweet Dumpling

Tip

  • To add even more flavor to your pumpkin soup, cook the pumpkin with bay leaf, sage and thyme. Add shredded chicken or crumbled sausage for a more hearty soup.

Other Ingredients

Beans and rice add very mild flavor to pumpkin soup and work well as thickeners:

  •  White, creamy, mild-flavored beans, such as cannellini, great Northern or navy. Puree canned beans in a blender or smash them with the back of a fork, and add 1/2 to 1 cup to the pumpkin soup.
  • Rice. Puree 1/2 cup of cooked rice, plus its cooking liquid, and add it to either creamed or chunky soup. This amount of rice thickens a soup with about 2 pounds of pumpkin; add more or less pureed rice depending on how much soup you're making. 

Tip

  • Stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice or cider vinegar to the soup during the last few minutes of cooking to add a touch of bright acidity that will bring the flavors of the soup to life. Add toasted pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, as garnish just before serving.

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