Dr. Wonson’s Kitchen: Pumpkin Soup
Posted on Nov 1, 2019
Even here in Northern California, where the weather is 70 degrees and sunny for most of the year, it’s starting to really feel like fall. There are crunchy leaves on the sidewalks, more and more people are breaking out their puffy jackets, and autumn colors are everywhere! Jack-o-lanterns are finding their homes on porches and decorative gourds are bringing beautiful shades of orange and red into my local shops. Of course, pumpkin flavoring has also started to invade all of the lattes, breads and muffins in my favorite coffee shops. For me, pumpkin flavor just doesn’t cut it. I want the real thing! I love this festive time of year, and I especially love getting to use all of the tasty autumn squashes that are filling my local farmer’s market.
It’s important to remember that autumn is also the beginning of cold and flu season. I see a lot of patients come in with sniffly noses and bad coughs, general fatigue and sometimes fevers. For general prevention and to help patients get over their colds faster, I like to prescribe a combination of Vitamins A and C, which act in tandem to help strengthen the immune system. Luckily, pumpkin is good for a lot more than just Halloween decorations. In addition to being delicious, pumpkin is also naturally full of immune-boosting Vitamins A, C and E. It’s also packed with fiber, which will help keep your digestive system happy. Start incorporating more pumpkin into your diet this season so you can get these important nutrients at the time when you need them most.
One tasty and simple way to eat pumpkin is pureed in soup. Around this time of year, your local grocery store will probably start featuring a variety of canned and boxed squash soups, but these almost always contain plenty of sugar, preservatives, and other inflammatory foods. I avoid the pre-made varieties and make my own, which is so simple it’ll quickly become an autumn staple for you and your family. Roasting your own fresh pumpkin will give you a higher amount of untouched vitamins and minerals, but if you’re presesd for time you can always use canned organic pumpkin instead. Just make sure you’re using pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Of course, if you start with a fresh pumpkin, you’ll also end up with pumpkin seeds you can roast. Pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber and minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc, to name a few. They’re a good source of tryptophan, which works with the calcium and magnesium to help calm the system and make it easier to sleep through the night. Plus, they’re delicious! Try adding some pumpkin into your life this autumn to truly make the most of the season.
Pumpkin Soup Recipe:
This recipe includes curry powder for an earthy, slightly spicy flavor. In addition to pairing well with pumpkin, curry powder improves circulation to warm the system and increase blood flow. If you prefer, you can substitute cinnamon and allspice for the curry powder, for a flavor reminiscent of pumpkin pie.
Feel free to use other varieties of squash in addition to or instead of pumpkin. A blend of roasted butternut squash and roasted pumpkin also makes for a very delicious soup.
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 can pureed organic pumpkin (or 1 small cooking pumpkin, roasted, cooled and pureed)
Vegetable, chicken or beef broth (or water)
Unsweetened coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and garlic and stir frequently, sauteeing until the onions become translucent and the garlic is fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in the curry powder, salt, and pepper, and cook for an additional minute. Add the pureed pumpkin and stir, then gradually add broth or water until the consistency is to your liking. For a creamier soup, add coconut milk or nut milk. Add additional salt, pepper and curry to taste, and then let the soup come to a gentle simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a week.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Wash the seeds to remove any pulp, then dry thoroughly with a paper towel and place in a small mixing bowl. If you’d rather not carve a pumpkin, you can also start with raw pumpkin seeds from the grocery store. Use a small saucepan to melt 2 tablespoons coconut oil into a liquid. Add the coconut oil to the pumpkin seeds in the bowl, and mix with salt and pepper. Try adding Chinese Five Spice or Garam Masala for an Asian-inspired taste, or cumin and paprika for a smokier flavor. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring once, until golden brown and crunchy. Let cool and enjoy!
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