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Bowl of Pumpkin Ancho Soup with Mint garnish
Pumpkin Ancho Soup with Mint garnish

Pumpkin Ancho Soup, whether made with small pie pumpkins, butternut squash or any of the heirloom squash varieties is a creamy, hearty, healthy soup — perfect for cool Fall or chilly Winter nights.  Detailed video in recipe below

Which Pumpkin or Winter Squash makes the best soup?

The main thing to consider when choosing the squash to use is the texture of squash. You can modify the soup to be more sweet or savory by the ingredients you add to the soup, but it is more difficult to change a “stringy” squash texture into a soup with a creamy texture.

Ingredients for Winter Squash Ancho soup
Ingredients for Winter Squash Ancho soup

Butternut squash is a popular variety of squash for soup and it is easy to find. Smaller, sugar or pie pumpkins will work also. Don’t use large pumpkins that are bred for decor rather than taste and texture.

I grow heirloom squash and find they have a lot of nuanced flavor differences. Some are more savory and nutty and some are more sweet. Most are quite dense, which means you will end up with a creamy texture and a full-bodied, robust flavor.

Can you Use Canned Pumpkin?

If you don’t have a fresh pumpkin or you are in a hurry, open a can of pumpkin puree.  Be sure the can is labeled 100% pure pumpkin and is not pumpkin pie filling.  Pumpkin pie filling has spices added and you won’t be able to control the type and amount of spices that go into the soup.

Enhance Flavor by “Roasting” the Squash or Pumpkin

When you roast squash the flavor turns sweeter and more intense. If you want the pumpkin flavor to shine, roasting it will make it “pumpkin-forward”, allowing the herbs and spices to be in the background. All too often overpowering pumpkin spices stand in for true pumpkin flavor.

The roasting process is exactly the same as if you were just making pumpkin puree. Depending on the size either quarter or cut into slices. scoop out the seeds, and place it on a foil (or parchment) lined baking sheet to roast at 375 degrees F.

Slices of roasted heirloom Long Island Cheese squash
Slices of roasted heirloom Long Island Cheese squash

The amount of roasting time will vary depending on how thick you cut the squash. I usually cut thick slices (see photo below) and roast for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The best way to tell when it is done is to poke the flesh with a fork and if it is soft all the way to the rind, it is done.

Can you Make Pumpkin Ancho Soup in a Slow Cooker or Instapot?

I prefer the taste of roasted pumpkin and find the caramelized flavor much more intense. If you are strapped for cooking time, don’t have an oven, or just prefer other methods, then a slow cooker or instapot will work just fine.

Just know that you will spend some time removing the rind and the seeds before hand if using either a crockpot or instapot. This can be a problem if using squash with very hard rinds. Once removed however, just add your preferred spices and herbs and cook for the time recommended on your appliance.

I do use the crockpot on a regular basis to make pumpkin butter. A recipe and video on “Pumpkin Grand Marnier Butter” will be available before Thanksgiving, 2020.

Which Spices, Herbs or Additions are Best with Pumpkin Ancho Soup?

Many pumpkin or squash soups are overly sweet in my opinion. This recipe flavors the squash with a smoky ancho spice, a bit of mint and a little coriander. I like it on the savory side and usually have it alone as a Fall dinner the first night and then add sausage or bacon the second night.

The only sweetener in the soup is from the natural ones coming from the squash or pumpkin. If you like your soup a little sweeter, maple syrup is a nice Autumnal addition.

Because pumpkin or squash soup is so popular, a wide range of additions or substitutions have been tested by many cooks and chefs. Here are a few of the favorites that rise to the top:

Herbs & Spices

  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Coriander
  • white pepper
  • ginger
  • sage
  • garlic

Other Great Additions or Substitutions

  • Sour cream or cream fraiche
  • pumpkin seeds (as garnish)
  • bacon
  • sausage
  • coconut milk
  • chicken
  • lentils
  • maple syrup
  • apples or pears
  • chipotle, or smoked paprika chile spice

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Most of the additions to pumpkin soup have their own specific health benefits. With regard to the pumpkin itself however, some of the nutritional benefits include:

  • Pumpkin is one of the best-known sources of beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. Beta carotene is converted into vitamin A when consumed.
  • Pumpkin is also good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.
  • Pumpkins are a fantastic source of fiber, and fiber slows the rate of sugar absorption into the blood, promotes regular bowel movements and smooths digestion.

Why Anchos Instead of Other Smoked Chiles?

Ancho chiles are smoked poblano peppers. Rich, smoky flavors go really well with fresh pumpkin. You can use dried anchos if you want to take the time to rehydrate them. I find ancho spice works just as well if you make sure it is a fresh spice.

Anchos have a medium heat profile which doesn’t usually offend those that are not chile-heads. For those that prefer more heat, chipotle spice gets the job done. Smoked paprika is the mildest of the smoked peppers for those that do not like heat but enjoy the smoky flavor profile.

How to Freeze or Repurpose Leftovers

If you are making a large batch and know you will want to freeze some, make it without dairy. When you are ready to serve it, portion out the amount you intend to have for the meal and heat it up with the dairy at that time. You will want to plan ahead for this.

Leftover soup is easy to repurpose. My husband is the king of repurposing leftovers and will scour the refrigerator for ingredients that might enhance or change up any leftovers. It often ends up being better than the original dish. He recently added some Italian sausage and curry paste to the soup which was excellent!

Take a look at the additions/substitutions list above and enhance the basic pumpkin soup with your favorites!

Sweet Pumpkin Recipes:

Check out the posts below for using winter squash and pumpkin in sweet recipes:

Savory Pumpkin Ancho Soup

Bowl of Pumpkin Ancho Soup with Mint garnish
Recipe for a savory pumpkin or Winter squash soup, including a variety of substitutions and additions, health benefits and how to freeze and use leftovers.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 10
Calories 95
Author dorothy stainbrook

Equipment

  • Large stockpot
  • Cleaver or sharp Chef’s knife
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients

  • 3 Lbs Pumpkin or Winter Squash
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh mint chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Ancho spice powder
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground coriander
  • 5 Cups Chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Heavy whipping cream
  • Mint For garnish
  • Smoked paprika or pumpkin seeds For garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375° F. Slice the squash into large slices (see photo in post) and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until flesh is easily pierced with knife, all the way down to the rind.
  • In a dutch oven or large stockpot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and saute until caramelized (about 5-10 minutes). Add the mint, ancho powder, cinnamon, sticks, and coriander and saute with onion a couple of minutes.
  • Add the broth to the pot. Scoop pumpkin flesh from the roasted pumpkin (or squash) and add to the pot. Cook everything together over medium to medium low heat for about 30 minutes
  • Remove the cinnamon sticks and add the heavy cream. Puree the soup with a stick blender until smooth and creamy. Garnish with mint, pumpkin seeds or sour cream and serve warm.

Video

Winter Squash: How to cure & store; heirloom variety descriptions; pumpkin ancho soup

Watch the Step by Step Video for More Details

Nutrition

Calories: 95kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 438mgPotassium: 597mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1947IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 1mg
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