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There’s a small handful of classic soup recipes that we return to over and over throughout the years. This wonderful pumpkin soup is one of them. With hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, and maple, and a barely perceptible touch of heat, it’s absolutely perfect. Includes Instant Pot, slow cooker, dairy-free, and canned pumpkin instructions.

Classic Pumpkin Soup Recipe | Umami Girl 780-2
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Why we love this recipe

If I do say so, over the years I’ve perfected classic pumpkin soup. The balance of flavors. The consistency and texture. This soup channels fall and delivers exactly what you’d expect from a classic pumpkin soup recipe, every time. It has:

  • Fresh pumpkin, roasted to caramelize a bit and draw out the natural sweetness (but see below for how to substitute canned pumpkin)
  • A gentle blend of spices that enhance rather than overpower
  • A silky, just-right texture that’s not too thick and not too thin

I first published this recipe here way back in 2010. I’ve since updated the post for clarity and the recipe to reflect additional cooking methods and ingredient variations.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe. Make sure they’re the best quality you can find, to get the best results.

ingredients in bowls

  • A medium-sized sugar pumpkin (2 to 3 pounds), also called a pie pumpkin or sweet pumpkin, is smaller, sweeter, and less fibrous than the kind you’d carve. (You can roast the seeds from a carving pumpkin, but the flesh will not result in a good soup.)
  • A little bit of good-quality real maple syrup adds a gentle layer of sweetness and complexity
  • To make this recipe vegetarian, use a good vegetable broth. This one has by far my favorite flavor profile. Or use chicken broth if you’re not concerned with making it vegetarian.
  • A little bit of heavy cream goes a long way toward enriching this classic soup. See below for dairy- and cream-free options.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a great pot of pumpkin soup. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details about this and other methods in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll prep and roast the pumpkin. This step makes the pumpkin easier to work with and also deepens the flavor of the soup by caramelizing the sugars in the pumpkin a bit. You’ll be glad you took the extra time.
  2. Sauté some finely diced onion in butter. Then add the scooped out flesh of the roasted pumpkin, the broth, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and pepper.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Off the heat, puree the soup (with an immersion blender or in a regular blender, carefully, in batches). Stir in maple syrup and cream. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I substitute a different winter squash?

Yes! There are several great types of squash that work beautifully as substitutes for sugar pumpkin in soup. Butternut will work (or try my favorite butternut squash and apple soup). But my favorite choices, which have denser, sweeter flesh, are kabocha squash (sometimes called Japanese pumpkin) and red kuri squash.

How can I make this soup thinner or thicker?

This recipe makes a medium-consistency soup that we find perfect. But it’s just a matter of taste.

You can always thin it with additional stock after blending if you like, or simmer it a little longer if you’d like a thicker soup. Just be sure to taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Over time, you can perfect the balance of pumpkin to broth to suit your own preference.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

As with many soups, pumpkin soup is great to make ahead. The flavors will even get better over time. You can keep this soup tightly covered in the fridge for several days. Gently reheat before serving, without bringing to a boil.

Instant Pot pumpkin soup

If you’d prefer to make your soup in the Instant Pot, that’s great too. You can start with roasted pumpkin or peeled, diced raw pumpkin (which won’t have quite the same depth of flavor but is still perfectly delicious.) Here’s what to do:

  • Use the sauté function to melt the butter and then cook the onion until softened (about five minutes).
  • Add the raw or roasted pumpkin, broth, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper to the pot. IMPORTANT: Use only four cups of broth, since the IP is a sealed environment that doesn’t result in much evaporation at all.
  • Position the lid and set the vent to sealing. Set the pot to manual, high pressure. For raw pumpkin, cook for 15 minutes. For roasted pumpkin, cook for 5 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • Follow the recipe’s regular instructions for adding the cream and maple syrup and pureeing the soup.

How to cook a whole pumpkin in the Instant Pot

Fun fact: You can also cook a whole sugar pumpkin right in the Instant Pot to make pumpkin puree. For a 2- to 3- pound pumpkin, place the entire thing into the pot and add one cup of water. Position the lid and set the vent to sealing. Cook on manual, high pressure for 15 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally. When cooled somewhat, carefully cut in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Flesh is ready to use. You can roast the seeds as well if you like.

Slow cooker pumpkin soup

To make this soup in the slow cooker, sauté the onions in the butter in a medium frying pan. Then add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 5 hours or on high for 3 hours. Puree and serve.

Dairy-free pumpkin soup (without cream)

To make a dairy-free and vegan version of this soup, you’ll make two simple substitutions.

First, swap in olive oil, or a neutral-tasting oil like safflower for the butter.

Second, swap out the cream. You have several options for substitutions:

  • My preference is an equal amount of cashew cream, because it’s easy to make, behaves similarly to cream, and has a complementary and fairly neutral flavor profile. If using cashew cream, stir it in right before you remove the pot from the heat. It only takes an instant to thicken.
  • My second-favorite option is to use a potato. Peel and dice a medium-sized potato (either a starchy or a gold-fleshed one will work) and add it to the pot along with the broth. Follow the rest of the instructions, but be sure to simmer the soup until the potato is tender. When you puree, it will add a nice creaminess and heft.
  • Or, if you like the taste of coconut, you can use an equal amount of full-fat coconut milk. It’s a complementary flavor but does change the taste of the soup.

Libby’s canned pumpkin soup recipe

If you’ve got a can of pumpkin puree and no fresh pumpkin to work with, you can still make this recipe. A 2- to 3- pound sugar pumpkin yields about the same amount of roasted flesh as one 15.5-ounce can of pumpkin puree. Start by sautéing the onion in the butter and simply add the canned pumpkin in the following step. There’s no need to make further changes to the recipe. The taste will be a little different than when using fresh pumpkin, but it’s still good.

More favorite classic soup recipes

Classic Pumpkin Soup Recipe | Umami Girl 780-2

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Classic Pumpkin Soup Recipe | Umami Girl 780-2
4.55 from 11 votes

Classic Pumpkin Soup Recipe

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
If I had to live in pumpkin soup monogamy for the rest of my days, I'd choose this classic pumpkin soup recipe — without curry, without crispy pancetta, without dancing croutons — that got me hooked on pumpkin soup in the first place. No question. Refer to the extensive notes section below for Instant Pot, slow cooker, dairy-free, and canned pumpkin variations on this recipe.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients 

  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin, 2 to 3 pounds/907 to 1(360 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cups 1(420 ml) low sodium vegetable stock (see notes)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup
  • ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream

To garnish (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the center.
  • Split pumpkin in half and remove seeds with a large spoon. Brush pumpkin on cut surfaces with oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-sides down.
  • Roast until completely tender and a knife or cake tester inserted near the stem meets little to no resistance, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • When cool enough to handle, scoop out seeds and stringy bits and reserve for roasting if you like. Scoop out flesh into a medium bowl and discard skin. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes.
  • Add pumpkin flesh, stock, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Remove pot oven from heat.
  • Puree soup with immersion blender or carefully, in batches, in regular blender.
  • For a smoother soup, strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
  • Whisk in maple syrup and cream.

Notes

  1. A sugar pumpkin, also called a pie pumpkin or sweet pumpkin, is smaller, sweeter, and less fibrous than the kind you’d carve.
  2. There are several great types of squash that work beautifully as substitutes for sugar pumpkin in soup. Butternut will work (or try my favorite butternut squash and apple soup). But my favorite choices, which have denser, sweeter flesh, are kabocha squash (sometimes called Japanese pumpkin) and red kuri squash.
  3. If you prefer a thinner soup, add up to 8 cups stock (or feel free to adjust after blending).
  4. As with many soups, pumpkin soup is great to make ahead. The flavors will even get better over time. You can keep this soup tightly covered in the fridge for several days. Gently reheat before serving, without bringing to a boil.

Instant Pot method

If you’d prefer to make your soup in the Instant Pot, that’s great too. You can start with roasted pumpkin or peeled, diced raw pumpkin (which won’t have quite the same depth of flavor but is still perfectly delicious.) Here’s what to do:
  • Use the sauté function to melt the butter and then cook the onion until softened (about five minutes).
  • Add the raw or roasted pumpkin, broth, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper to the pot. IMPORTANT: Use only four cups of broth, since the IP is a sealed environment that doesn’t result in much evaporation at all.
  • Position the lid and set the vent to sealing. Set the pot to manual, high pressure. For raw pumpkin, cook for 15 minutes. For roasted pumpkin, cook for 5 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • Follow the recipe’s regular instructions for adding the cream and maple syrup and pureeing the soup.

How to cook a whole pumpkin in the Instant Pot

Fun fact: You can also cook a whole sugar pumpkin right in the Instant Pot to make pumpkin puree. For a 2- to 3- pound pumpkin, place the entire thing into the pot and add one cup of water. Position the lid and set the vent to sealing. Cook on manual, high pressure for 15 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally. When cooled somewhat, carefully cut in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Flesh is ready to use. You can roast the seeds as well if you like.

Slow cooker method

To make this soup in the slow cooker, sauté the onions in the butter in a medium frying pan. Then add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 5 hours or on high for 3 hours. Puree and serve.

Dairy-free method

To make a dairy-free and vegan version of this soup, you’ll make two simple substitutions.First, swap in olive oil, or a neutral-tasting oil like safflower for the butter.
Second, swap out the cream. You have several options for substitutions:
  • My preference is an equal amount of cashew cream, because it’s easy to make, behaves similarly to cream, and has a complementary and fairly neutral flavor profile. If using cashew cream, stir it in right before you remove the pot from the heat. It only takes an instant to thicken.
  • My second-favorite option is to use a potato. Peel and dice a medium-sized potato (either a starchy or a gold-fleshed one will work) and add it to the pot along with the broth. Follow the rest of the instructions, but be sure to simmer the soup until the potato is tender. When you puree, it will add a nice creaminess and heft.
  • Or, if you like the taste of coconut, you can use an equal amount of full-fat coconut milk. It’s a complementary flavor but does change the taste of the soup.

Libby’s canned pumpkin soup recipe

If you’ve got a can of pumpkin puree and no fresh pumpkin to work with, you can still make this recipe. A 2- to 3- pound sugar pumpkin yields about the same amount of roasted flesh as one 15.5-ounce can of pumpkin puree. Start by sautéing the onion in the butter and simply add the canned pumpkin in the following step. There’s no need to make further changes to the recipe. The taste will be a little different than when using fresh pumpkin, but it’s still good.

Nutrition

Calories: 235kcal, Carbohydrates: 23.9g, Protein: 2.9g, Fat: 16g, Fiber: 1.7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Soups
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.55 from 11 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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