Lunch & Dinner, Recipes

Practically Recipe-less: Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup with apples, onions, and a hint of spice to stave off those cold winter evenings.

In the past I believe I have alluded to the fact that I don’t always use recipes or, when I do, don’t always follow them.  I use them for baking (lucky for you all, did you ever wonder why the number of baked goods I post is much higher than the number of recipes for “real food”?) because it’s hard to alter that while you’re in the process of baking.  But with things you cook on the stove, or even many savory dishes that go in the oven, you can taste and adjust as your going along, as the final product doesn’t alter as much as it does with something that is baked.  At least, that’s how I feel.

This is how I learned to cook from my mom (shout out to Ma, I’m sure you’re reading this).  She doesn’t use recipes, she says she did until she realized that measurements didn’t really matter.  That’s not entirely true, but again, it’s true for things that aren’t cakes or cookies.

Recently I mentioned that it was finally starting to feel like fall for real.  And this only means one thing: pumpkin.  I’m pretty set in my ways regarding seasonal activities and foods (my former roommate will tell you that I banned Christmas music until after Thanksgiving), which means I reserve all pumpkin-flavored things for September-December.  After that, the pumpkin gets put away until autumn rolls around again.

The fall weather made me really want soup and bread.  Eating My Way Across Austria had just posted a pumpkin soup recipe, which sounded like just the thing for fall.  If you haven’t guessed from the intro to this post, though she inspired me, I didn’t follow her recipe.  Instead, I threw some things in a pot, tasting and adjusting along the way.  There is nothing wrong with following a recipe, but you have so much more freedom when you aren’t tied to a recipe, and when you feel confident about cooking recipe-less there are endless possibilities for customization.

My mom’s dinner: pumpkin soup with a dallop of yogurt and a parsley garnish, fresh bread, and hard cider.

So, here is my sort-of recipe for pumpkin soup.  If anyone else has their own variations on pumpkin (or squash or other seasonal vegetable) soups, I’d love to hear them.

Pumpkin Soup


  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 an apple, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cans solid pack pumpkin (15 oz cans, I started with one can, then decided it wasn’t quite as pumpkin-y as I’d like)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (be careful when you add salt, chicken stock can be very salty already)
  • Paprika, curry powder, and chipotle chili powder, to taste


In a large pot, saute onion and apple over low heat until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Mix in pumpkin, stock, milk, and cream.  Once warmed, begin to add seasonings.  Add a little at a time (between a pinch and 1/4 teaspoon, I would say), then taste.  You definitely want to stir the soup before tasting it, and you may even want to give it a minute before tasting to allow the spices to settle in.  Simmer until warmed through.


5 thoughts on “Practically Recipe-less: Pumpkin Soup”

  1. I made a version of your pumpkin soup yesterday but I added chunks of rutabaga along with the apple. I was using fresh baked pumpkin and I left it all chunky. It was a success.

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