Friday, December 21, 2012

Curried Pumpkin Soup

by Sheila Connolly

When I was in Ireland recently (tired of hearing that yet?), on a cold and drizzly day my husband and I wandered into the tiny café on a corner (one of only two corners in the village) in Leap, County Cork.  It's run by two English sisters, who happened to come to the village to work and ended up starting their own business.

It's a tiny place with a coal-burning fireplace at one end—the fire was very welcome on that day—and a kitchen about the size of my bathroom.  The menu is short.  I ordered curried pumpkin soup, the special of the day.  And it was indeed special—the perfect antidote to the gloomy weather, with a nice balance of spice and heat.

There are many recipes for pumpkin soup (and squash soup, if you can't find a pumpkin) available on the Internet, and Riley Adams posted one here in 2009.  The problem is, many of these treat the soup as sweet rather than savory.  I've found recipes that call for ginger, sugar, banana (!), coconut milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and an apple (not all together!).

I'm sure they're all delightful recipes in their own way, but they were not what I wanted. This is a spicy soup, not a pie. Luckily I had the opportunity to watch one of the café sisters make her soup, starting with dismembering one very large pumpkin with very thick shell (she used only about an eighth of it).  And since I asked, she said that she starts by baking her pumpkin.


Now, I'm not going to tell you that you can't buy a can or two of prepared pumpkin and use that.  To be honest, if you're putting it in a pie (with spices) you really can't tell the difference.  But I'd like to think that baking it brings out the natural sweetness and flavor of the pumpkin, in addition to softening it up.  It's up to you.

Curried Pumpkin Soup
(for 4 servings):


2 Tblsp butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 Tblsp curry powder*
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
3 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if you prefer)
1½ cups heavy cream
4 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin (I needed only one of the pumpkins)


If you are cooking your own pumpkin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Slice the pumpkin in half and lay the halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet.  Roast for 45-60 minutes, or until the flesh is soft.  Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle it.  Then scrape the flesh from inside the rind.  You should have about 4 cups (but don't worry if it's not exact).

Melt the butter in a large pan and cook the onions slowly without browning.  Stir in the spices and cook for a minute.


Add the broth and the pumpkin, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender or food mill (whatever you happen to have).

Return to the pan.  Add the cream and heat through (you don't need to bring it to a boil). Taste for seasoning.

And that's it!  If you want you can vary the proportions of stock and heavy cream, or substitute half-and-half or evaporated milk (not sweetened). 


It goes very well with Irish soda bread (the brown kind) which has its own sweetness, and together they make a lovely lunch for a dreary day.

My long-time favorite
*A note re curry powder:  I'm sure I've said it before, but there is an infinite variety of curry powers available commercially, plus you can make your own.  Use whatever your favorite is.  But don't forget to add the cayenne pepper to the soup, which is what gives it just a bit of bite.







  1. That sounds just right for a gray, windy day like we're having today. Thanks Sheila--and no, not tired of hearing about Ireland!

  2. Oh, that does sound lovely! It's very windy today and they are saying we will have our coldest weather yet tonight and tomorrow. I think I need to make this soup.
    And,yes, with soda bread.
    Thanks so much

  3. This sounds perfect, Sheila. It's blowing snow here, and I've been in a curry state of mind. But 1 tablespoon? Is that enough?

    ~ Krista

  4. Sheila, I love pumpkin soup and adding curry? Divine. Thank you for sharing.

    Avery / Daryl

  5. Great post, Sheila. Enjoyed your description of the cafe, so cozy with that fireplace and the two English sisters. I'd say you have a book setting right there. :)

    Agree on the savory soup -- this recipe's a keeper. Thanks and I hope you and you family have a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year!

    ~ Cleo

  6. What a great combo! Perfect for the wintery weather we're having here. I'll make it tomorrow.

    Thanks, Sheila. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!