We’re embracing seasonal eating again with this recipe. Pumpkin soup is a true taste of autumn.
In some countries, this time of year marks Hallowe’en. And the pumpkin (balkabağı – honey squash) is synonymous with this festival. Well, it is seasonal.
For us in Fethiye, autumn is the time when the local fresh pumpkins appear and we set to work making delicious recipes from it.
Our pumpkin soup recipe (balkabağı çorbası) is a favourite!
Easy Pumpkin Soup Recipe
Most people know about the Fethiye market that happens every Tuesday; Salı Pazarı.
But, there are also other, lower key markets around the area selling their seasonal goods.
Sweet Tooth Or Savoury Tooth?
In the season that is the gold of autumn (sonbahar), all markets will be selling pumpkin as well as other members of the squash family such as butternut squash.
Turks generally use pumpkin to make a pumpkin dessert; kabak tatlısı.
But, fortunately, they also love savoury dishes, too, like this balkabağı çorbası (pumpkin soup recipe).
If you know us, you’ll know we’re savoury people. Give us a pumpkin soup over a dessert any day!
Thanks For The Slices
A stack of huge, golden pumpkins for sale always looks more than impressive but we like to try and keep things simple in our house.
We haven’t got kids. We don’t need to buy a whole pumpkin and painstakingly carve out the centre before making scary faces in it.
No; this is our food. We want tasty and we want easy.
Over the years, the stall holders on the markets have realised that people are busy and really haven’t got the time or the patience (and death wish) to take a knife and hack away at a pumpkin just to make a meal.
We are eternally grateful to those stall holders who cut their pumpkins into segments for novices like us.
We’re even more grateful when, on a rare occasion, we see a stall selling bite-sized chunks of the peeled flesh of the pumpkin already bagged up. Wonderful!
This does mean we miss out on the pumpkin seeds (don’t discard these if you’re lucky enough to get them) but it makes for a more natural, fresh convenience food.
The best way to buy it on the local market if you want quick and easy!
Let’s Make Pumpkin Soup
So, if you’ve got lots of leftover pumpkin from making Hallowe’en lanterns, or you’re like us and you just love to buy pumpkin for its edible delights, let’s make a simple pumpkin soup.
Spices For Pumpkin Soup
We’re going to be using spices, of course. Toasted spices that are going to make this an aromatic soup.
The warm spices are so important to the flavour and are our (not very) secret ingredients that make this soup so tasty.
A Pumpkin Soup Without Cream
If you’re thinking the richness of heavy cream, well that’s not going to happen. We’ve got enough vices in our life without adding cream to a soup.
No, we’re relatively fat free on this one.
But don’t let that put you off.
We’re going to be using other ingredients for extra richness that will give us a wholesome, hearty, creamy soup.
This dairy-free pumpkin soup recipe is definitely in the comfort food zone. And most definitely full of punch.
Time To Serve Your Healthy Pumpkin Soup
We’re full of good intentions and make every effort not to overindulge in the supreme Turkish bread.
However, this is autumn. The nights are drawing in and it’s a bit chilly out there.
What else are you going to do, eh?
Ladle that steaming pumpkin soup into your bowl and cut (or tear) yourself a few wedges of that fresh crusty bread.
Sprinkle some chilli flakes on top of your soup, if so desired, and feel the comfort of autumn as you enjoy this wholesome seasonal soup…
Pumpkin Soup – Your Questions Answered
Pumpkin is really good for you because it contains lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
It also has a low calorie content, so is great for weight loss.
Ours is an easy recipe that still gives a creamy texture without adding the cream.
If you don’t want to use fresh pumpkin flesh – or if pumpkin is not in season – you can use canned pumpkin puree to make the process easier and the total time quicker.
Yes! This means you can make yourself a big batch in a large pot and portion it out to freeze and eat on a cold day.
When you want to eat your soup, remove from the freezer to thaw to room temperature. Heat on a medium heat until you have a delicious, hot, soup.
Your soup will also keep in the fridge for 4-5 days in an airtight container if you think the next time you will be eating it will be the next day or soon after.
Pumpkin is a member of the squash family and in Turkish cuisine, squash soups are quite common.
Balkabağı çorbası translates as ‘honey squash soup’ so you need a sweeter type of pumpkin.
Depending on where you live, these are sometimes called sugar pumpkins.
Kabocha squash whose taste resembles a mix of pumpkin and sweet potato is also a good choice. As is butternut squash.
Of course. Our recipe for pumpkin soup has used warm spices and the use of cardamom pods takes us towards flavours of Indian cuisine.
If you want to head more in that spicy direction, you could add some crushed, fresh ginger, curry powder and some full-fat coconut milk.
This would give you a creamy pumpkin soup without the dairy, making it suitable for your vegan friends.
Lots of Turkish soups use chicken stock but, obviously, if you want a vegetarian or vegan pumpkin soup, you can use a vegetable stock or plain water.
When you’re scraping out the flesh of your pumpkin, don’t discard those seeds.
In Turkey, pumpkin seeds (kabak çekirdeği) are a much loved, extremely healthy snack! Eat the whole thing or just the seed.
Roast them on a baking tray (baking sheet) in bit of olive oil and chilli or cayenne pepper.
Of course, they can also be toasted and scattered over your hot soup as a garnish.
Spicy Pumpkin Soup Recipe
- 1 Sharp knife
- 1 Large saucepan
- 1 Small frying pan for toasting your spices
- 1 Pestle & mortar
- 1 Hand blender
- 1 kilo pumpkin or butternut squash flesh, cubed
- 1 medium-sized potato peeled & cubed
- 1 onion peeled & roughly chopped
- 1 small handful of red lentils
- 1 teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
For The Toasted Spices
- 5 cardamom pods smashed & outer shell discarded
- 2 fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- salt & pepper to season
- 1 tablespoon dried sage leaves torn
- 1 teaspoon red pepper chilli flakes optional
- First of all, grind all your spices together in a pestle and mortar.
- Discard the cases of the cardamom pods, leaving the seeds behind.
- Add the spices to pan and heat on a low light.
- Stir around for a couple of minutes until you can sense the spicy aroma.
- Now add a glug of olive oil and your pumpkin, potatoes, lentil and onion.
- Now add your paprika and stir that into the mixture.
- Stir around and then add hot water or stock – enough to cover your ingredients.
- Stir around and increase the heat to bring your water to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for around 30 minutes, until your ingredients have softened.
- Once cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
- As soon as you remove your soup from the heat, add your garam masala spice blend and stir that in.
- Meanwhile, fry your sage leaves in hot olive oil for a minute. place onto a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
- Blend your pumpkin soup until smooth and then serve with your crispy sage leaves and chilli flakes sprinkled on top if required.
- If you had any pumpkin seeds, you can also sprinkle some of those over the top if you like.
- It is fine to just add water to your pumpkin soup but vegetable or chicken stock will be extra tasty.
- Butternut squash makes a good substitute for your pumpkin soup if you can’t get pumpkin.
- As with all of our recipes, the calories per serving of pumpkin soup are meant as a general guide.
- We have changed our pumpkin soup recipe over the years and this is reflected in the current recipe.
- Lentils are a common addition to Turkish soups. Give our red lentil soup a try. Green lentil soup is a great winter recipe, too.
- Our pumpkin soup is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Cherck out our growing list of Turkish vegetarian and vegan recipes.
- We’ve got lots of other recipes from Turkey that you can try.