- 4 ounces of pancetta, bacon, or "plant-based" bacon, chopped small
- Unsalted butter, ghee, plant-based "butter", or cooking oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced small
- 2 stalks of celery, diced small
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (chopped super small, almost to a paste)
- 28 ounces or about 3 cups of pumpkin purée, homemade or canned
- 4 cups or 32 ounces (1 box) of chicken or vegetable stock, low-salt or unsalted recommended
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme or parsley stems
- 2 bay leaves, optional
- ½ to 1 teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder
- ¼ teaspoon of freshly-grated or ground nutmeg
- 1 to 1½ teaspoons of kosher salt (less if table salt)
- ½ cup of heavy cream or ¼ cup of coconut cream, optional
- Dice the celery and onion into quarter-inch pieces. Do the same with the bacon or pancetta, cutting it into quarter-inch cubes or lardons (thick, rectangular pieces). Mince the garlic by chopping it into small pieces. Then run your knife back and forth over it with small up-and-down motions.
- In a dutch oven or very large pot, cook the pancetta (or vegan "bacon") over medium heat with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking. Remove it with a slotted spoon, and drain it on a paper towel-lined plate. Save it for garnishing the soup.
- In the pancetta drippings left in the pot or in a few tablespoons of butter or cooking oil, sauté the onions and celery with a tiny pinch of salt over medium-low heat. Cook until they soften and turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two while stirring frequently so the garlic doesn't burn. If the pot gets dry while cooking the vegetables, add a little more oil or butter.
- Add your stock, pumpkin purée, apple cider vinegar, and another small pinch of salt, and whisk or stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Bring the soup to a strong simmer, then turn the heat down to maintain a gentle bubbling.
- Add the bay leaves and sprigs of fresh herbs. You can tie the herbs and bay leaves together with butcher's twine for easy removal. Simmer the soup covered for a minimum of 20 minutes, or up to an hour.
- Remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves. Blend your soup for the smoothest, silkiest texture. Or use an immersion blender right in the pot. For incredibly silky soup, strain the blended soup through a fine mesh sieve into a heat-proof bowl or back into the pot.
- Add the Chinese five-spice powder and grated or ground nutmeg. Taste the soup before adding any more salt. Then season it to your liking. I recommend a flake or sea salt.
- Whisk in the heavy cream or coconut cream, if using. Coconut cream tends to be pretty thick. But if you add it when the soup is hot it should thin out easily with a bit of stirring. If you like soup on the thinner side, add a little water or stock, a quarter of a cup at a time until you're happy.
- Garnish with the crispy pancetta or vegan "bacon", chopped fresh herbs, and/or roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze them. Soup with hot spices like white pepper or Sichuan peppercorns will become spicier with each day it sits. And more delicious!
For Vegan Soup
For vegan pumpkin soup, omit the pancetta or cook plant-based "bacon" in the pot first. Then use your preferred healthy oil or plant-based butter to sauté the aromatic vegetables (vegan "bacon" won't render out fat like pork bacon). For a silky, creamy finish, whisk in coconut cream at the end of cooking. Coconut and Chinese five-spice powder are an exotic and fun flavor combination!
Homemade Pumpkin Purée
Preheat your oven to 400° F. Slice three to five pumpkins in half with a large, sharp knife. Scrape out the stringy flesh and seeds. Drizzle the inside of the pumpkin halves with any high-heat cooking oil. Then season them generously with salt. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast the pumpkins for 35 to 45 minutes, until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork or butter knife. Depending on the size of your pumpkins, roasting times will vary. When the pumpkins are cool enough to handle, scrape the cooked flesh away from the skin. Then blend it in a blender or food processor until smooth. Chill roasted pumpkin purée for up to a week before using, or freeze it.
On Adding Five-Spice Powder
Take it slow with the spices. Five-spice powder can really bring the heat from all those peppercorns. So start with a little bit and taste as you go. As an alternative, whisk a small pinch of the five-spice powder into the individual bowls of soup when you serve it. Or to avoid a spicy soup altogether, replace the five-spice powder with: 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of ground white pepper.
How to Freeze
I like to cool leftovers to room temperature, seal the soup in an air-tight food storage bag, and lay it flat in the freezer. This makes it space efficient, and it's also really easy to break off frozen chunks for single servings later on. If you plan to freeze your pumpkin soup, save adding the heavy cream or coconut cream until after you thaw it.
On Salting Soups
Salt from the start of cooking. There is a big difference in flavor and nuance when you season with salt from the beginning of cooking. As opposed to just adding salt right at the end. Salt will encourage the ingredients to change chemically, and give off flavors they wouldn't otherwise. If you're nervous about oversalting, measure the amount into a small dish, and pinch your salt from there throughout cooking.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Soups
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
- Serving Size: 1 Cup of Soup
- Calories: 172
- Sugar: 4.5 g
- Sodium: 458.2 mg
- Fat: 11.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 12.5 g
- Protein: 7 g
- Cholesterol: 17.7 mg
Keywords: creamy pumpkin soup, easy pumpkin soup, vegan pumpkin soup, pumpkin soup recipe