Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recipe: Herbed Pumpkin Soup with Carmelized Onions & Parsley Cashew Cream

New York City was plunged into Autumn this week. The trees have started changing colors, we've all broken out our fall jackets and scarves, and the heat was turned on in our apartment building (thank goodness! Felicity and I have been bundling in quilts in the mornings to stay warm!). To me, fall means pumpkin. Pumpkin scones, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin oatmeal, and pumpkin soup.

Rewind to last Friday afternoon, a lovely day in the mid 70s with sunshine: I was skyping with my mom, wondering what on earth to make for dinner. I wanted something really tasty and easy, and that wouldn't be considered too veganish for my dinner guest. My mom, bundled in a sweater and sipping tea in Minnesota, with weather in the mid-40s, suggested some pumpkin soup.

I had pumpkin in the fridge from muffins I'd made earlier that week. Pumpkin soup sounded easy and wonderful. Felicity and I put on our shoes, and walked to the store to purchase some onions, garlic, parsley, and a lovely loaf of jewish rye bread.

This pumpkin soup got a strong stamp of approval from my non-vegan dinner guest, who is really into good food and is herself an amazing cook. The baby loved it, and I loved it. It was so yummy that Felicity and I finished off our leftovers on Saturday for lunch. It was so yummy that I thought about it longingly for days afterwards, and then cooked it again for Ian last night. It's a good pumpkin soup.

Both times I served this soup with a simple green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, and rye bread toasts. When I ate my leftovers for lunch today, I cubed my very stale rye bread and made croutons, which was absolutely amazing and ramped up the "yum" factor even more.

Herbed Pumpkin Soup with Caramelized Onions & Parsley Cashew Cream

You can really use almost any herbs in this soup that would go well with a Thanksgiving meal. I chose sage and some thyme the first time I made this soup, then tried sage and rosemary last night. I tend not to like cinnamon in my savory things, but if you're into that, this would be a good place to try it.

If you don't have an immersion blender, go ahead and use your blender to puree the soup. Don't worry about cleaning it out after you make the cashew cream - it will only enhance the soup. I would also suggest soaking the cashews in the water as you make the soup, it will help them blend more easily , and give a smoother textures to your cashew cream.


2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped

large pinch of salt
pinch of sugar/sucanat (optional)
1-2 teaspoons of wintery herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
handful of chopped parsley
2 cups fresh pumpkin, or 15 oz. canned pumpkin
4 cups vegetable broth (or vegetable Better than Bouillon and water)
splash of apple cider vinegar (optional)
Parsley Cashew Cream (see below)


Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until glistening. Add onion and toss to coat in olive oil. Add salt and sugar (if using), add herbs, and stir again. Allow onions to caramelize, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning or sticking. Continue to cook onions about 20-30 minutes in this manner until they have a deep brown color and are very soft. You can skip this step and just brown them, but caramelizing the onions creates a lovely sweetness to this soup, and is a lovely pair with the pumpkin.

Create a small well in the onions, add a touch more olive oil, and add the garlic and half of the parsley. Saute until fragrant, then stir into onions. Stir in pumpkin and broth and stir until well incorporated. Let the soup cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors combine. If the soup is starting to simmer, reduce the heat a bit, you don't want it to cook at more than a very gentle boil.

When the soup is done cooking, remove it from the heat. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup thoroughly, so no chunks of parsley or onion remain. Add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar if desired, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with some of the cashew cream drizzled on top, or stir all of it in the soup if you're more excited about a decadent taste than a decadent presentation - it will make the soup very creamy and add an extra two Yum Points.

Serves 6, 175 calories per serving. 6 grams protein per serving and high in Vitamin A.

Parsley Cashew Cream

I would suggest soaking the cashews the water for at least 30 minutes before making your cashew cream. If you do this, blend the cashews with their soaking water. If you are unable to do this, the cashews will still make a lovely cream, you may just have to blend them for an extra minute or two. 

Cashew cream can enhance many things and can be used in the place of dairy cream. This recipe can be made without the parsley (and even the salt), and will be equally delicious and a bit more versatile.


1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup water 
2-4 Tablespoons parsley, chopped


Place the cashews and water into the blender. Blend using the high speed until it forms a cream. Slowly add the chopped parsley, and a pinch or two of salt. Continue to blend 2-3 minutes until the cashews and parsley have completely broken down and have created a smooth cream. If the cashew cream seems to thick to you, feel free to add a Tablespoon or two of water, perhaps even more.

50 calories for every 2 Tablespoons, with 4 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of protein.

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