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Spicy Pumpkin Leek Soup

5 stars based on 28 votes

spicy-pumpkin-leek-soup

When we think of pumpkin, we usually think of autumn sweets — like pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, or pumpkin muffins — and those are happy thoughts! But pumpkin’s earthy flavor is wonderful in savory dishes too. In this velvety soup, pumpkin is simmered with leeks, apples, maple syrup and herbs. And instead of typical pumpkin pie spices, cumin and cayenne pepper lend a smoky, spicy flavor. I use canned pumpkin to make life easy, but feel free to roast and purée a fresh pumpkin if you’d like.

ingredients

Before starting, it’s important to wash the leeks well — they are notoriously dirty. To clean, cut off the dark green portions and slice the leeks in half lengthwise. Run under water, pulling the layers apart to wash off any dirt, sand, and grit stuck between the layers.

washing-leeks

Thinly slice the leeks.

sliced-leeks

Melt the butter in a soup pot, then add the leeks.

leeks1

Cook until the leeks are softened, about 10 minutes.

leeks2

Add the pumpkin purée, apples, herbs, salt, and spices.

apples-herbs-pumpkin

As well as the chicken broth, then bring to a boil.

ready-to-boil

Simmer for about 20 minutes.

blending-soup

Add the cream and, using a stick blender (or regular blender), purée until smooth.

ready

Ladle the pumpkin soup into bowls and top with a swirl of cream and more thyme.

spicy-pumpkin-leek-soup-1

Spicy Pumpkin Leek Soup

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2.5 pounds leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 (15-oz) can pumpkin purée
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the pumpkin, apple, broth, maple syrup, salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes more.
  3. Add the heavy cream. Use a stick blender to purée the soup until completely smooth. (Alternatively, cool the soup slightly and use a blender to purée in batches. Be sure to remove the center knob on the blender and cover with a dishtowel to avoid splatters.) Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a swirl of cream (see note below) and fresh thyme leaves, if desired.
  4. Note: To add a swirl of cream that floats on top of the soup, whip a few tablespoons of cream with a whisk until ever so slightly thickened. Then use a teaspoon to drizzle and swirl the cream over the soup.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 331
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 53 g
  • Sugar: 24 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Sodium: 702 mg
  • Cholesterol: 27 mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Fantastic! I have made this soup for several gatherings and always receive a lot of compliments. Very well balanced between sweet and savory. Plus my kids love it which is always a bonus.

    - SFitzgerald on March 17, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This soup is absolutely perfect on a snowy winter day! I love everything about it. I only had about half of the amount of leeks the recipe called for, so I substituted a white onion. Next time, I would also use an apple that was less sweet (not honey crisp). Then I think it would be perfect. Thanks for a delicious and comforting soup!

    - Ashley on February 25, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is just about my favorite soup recipe, ever. It is perfectly balanced, rich but not heavy, and just delicious. The only alteration I’ve made is to add some cubed butternut squash along with the pumpkin to simmer and then puree. This makes the soup a little bit creamier and thicker, which I like. But it’s absolutely wonderful as is.

    - Lorraine on February 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I just made this without the cream–it is delicious! I’m not cream-averse in general, but I’m glad I tasted it before adding cream, as I was happy without it. Otherwise I followed the recipe to the letter.

    - Rebecca H. on February 7, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Delicious!! I reduced the maple syrup to 2 Tbsp. to suit our tastes. Great flavor, and simple to make. Thanks for another winner!

    - Jamie on February 4, 2017 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Great soup with minimal prep. I can’t comment on the recipe as written because I used a fennel bulb and 4 shallots instead of the leeks, but I’m not sure that it made much of a difference to the end result. The flavors were well balanced and subtle. I’ve made other pumpkin soups where the pumpkin was more pronounced, but couldn’t really identify it in this one. I thought the fennel may stand out but it didn’t. Everything blended together nicely. Both the pumpkin puree and chicken broth were homemade. The soup was nice and thick, but my homemade broth was thick as well, guaranteeing a full-bodied soup. I wanted more of a savory than sweet taste so reduced the maple syrup to 2 tbsp. but that was the only change I made to the seasonings. The soup freezes well without the cream.

    - Sadie on January 28, 2017 Reply
  • Sooo good! Here’s my changes to this delicious recipe: 2 T butter, 1 T olive oil. 3 C veggie stock, 3 C chicken stock. 15 oz roasted Kabocha squash pureed in the food processor with a little water, skin included. No maple syrup, plenty sweet with a Fuji apple. Subbed light coconut milk for cream. Served with Irish buttermilk brown bread from kingarthurflour.com

    - Marry on January 13, 2017 Reply
  • 3 stars

    A nice soup, but too sweet for my taste – and I only used 2 tbsp of maple syrup, rather than the 5 called for in the recipe. I used a honeycrisp apple, which may be one of the sweeter varieties. Next time I would probably omit the maple syrup if using a sweet apple.

    - Jenn V. on December 12, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    The tastes are subtle and delicious. This was a gourmet recipe with minimal effort. Thank you Jenn!

    - Sue Lovegren on December 11, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I usually don’t like pumpkin anything, but this recipe is wonderful. I loved it and will make again. My soup came out thick and very savory. It was also very easy. I used half and half because that is what I had on hand.

    - Maria Carver on December 4, 2016 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Great recipe which lends itself to substitutions: peeled pumpkin or different squashes (kabocha, butternut, etc.) peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks; onions instead of leeks. I cut down the syrup from 5 to 3 Tbs as I found that the apple sweetened the soup also. I’ve made this soup several times, each time a little differently and it’s always appreciated.

    - Carole N on December 1, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    The spicy pumpkin soup is wonderful! I added a large hot sausage link to give the soup a little “kick”.. it was a hit with my family! I will definitely make this soup throughout the fall/winter season!

    - Deborah Carlson on December 1, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this soon after I got it in my inbox. It was very good, very flavorful, and easy. Just what we needed on those very cold nights in NY during that pre-Thanksgiving snow storm. Even better the next day and day after. I served it with a dollop of greek yogurt and homemade corn muffins. Very savory!

    - Karen T on December 1, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is the most heavenly soup. I followed the instructions to the letter and I can not wait to make this again. Every year I roast a huge goose-neck pumpkin and freeze the puree, which I use for bread, pie, and this year I used some to make this soup. I have enough left for another batch of this divine soup. The flavors are outstanding.

    - Kim Nurick on December 1, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    It’s my second Once Upon a Chef thanksgiving this year! I’m getting an early start and made this soup. I love the spicy savory flavor. Cranberry orange sauce, check! Next up is the sangria you just posted. Thank you for your wonderful recipes Jenn! Happy Thanksgiving.

    - Kerrie on November 22, 2016 Reply
    • You’re welcome, Kerrie! Glad you are enjoying the recipes and happy Thanksgiving to you too!

      - Jenn on November 23, 2016 Reply
  • Can leeks be substituted with onions? I have a surplus of onion from my farm box.

    - Andrea on November 22, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Andrea, it will definitely taste different, but I think you could get away with it. If they happen to be sweet onions, that would be better than standard yellow onions.

      - Jenn on November 22, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    A real winner…prepared without the sage and garnished as shown, My gentleman friend could not stop raving. Have several other pumpkin soups which are all delicious, but think that this is my favorite. Served with a walnut muffin made with walnut oil…beautiful pairing. Thanks Jenn

    - Carol on November 22, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Prepared with 1 pound frozen leek from Trader Joe and the balance with chopped red onion, sautéed in the butter with the cumin and 1/2 teaspoon dried sage for about 30 minutes. Added 1 large Honeycrisp apple, 5 cups homemade chicken broth and 1 cup ginger flavored tea, the maple syrup and fresh thyme. Very good, gentle fall flavor, “sort of “ a pumpkin/butternut squash flavor, plus something more. Soup rates a 4.75*. When serving, adding a little cream (I added a little sour cream) the taste is brightened.

    - JaneDough1234 on November 20, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this last night and served it with some french bread and a salad. It was absolutely wonderful. It is a perfect balance of sweet with just a tiny kick of spice. YUM!

    - Laura on November 17, 2016 Reply
  • I just made this in order to freeze, the flavor is good however it is thin – my apple was small as were my leeks. How might I thicken it (I already froze it)? I didn’t plan on adding cream either. Perhaps I’ll just deal with a thin soup since the flavor is still good?

    - andrea on November 14, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Andrea, Just simmer it on the stove and it will thicken up gradually.

      - Jenn on November 15, 2016 Reply
  • Jen I love your website and every one of your recipes are a hit! I was just going to suggest to those individuals who are weary about using cream in your recipes, plain Greek yogurt always works great for me and I wanted to know if I could roast butternut squash for this recipe since it’s a part of the pumpkin family?…

    - Leslie on November 13, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Leslie, Yes, butternut squash would work here. Would love to hear how it turns out!

      - Jenn on November 14, 2016 Reply
  • Jen do not like sage,,,what Can I substitute, how much or should I just omit?

    - Carol Winkelman on November 13, 2016 Reply
    • You can just omit it, Carol. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on November 13, 2016 Reply
  • Jen – Love, love your recipes and this one looks wonderful. Can I make it now (up to the point of adding the cream) and freeze it now (11/11/2016) for Thanksgiving?

    - Joan Brennan on November 11, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Joan, glad you like the recipes! Yes, you can definitely do that; just add the cream when you’re re-heating the soup.

      - Jenn on November 11, 2016 Reply
  • Want to make this but wonder how many cups/ounces does one batch make? It says it serves 6….but are they 2Cup bowls, or 3 Cup????

    - bonnie on November 10, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Bonnie, Each serving would be approximately 1 1/2 cups.

      - Jenn on November 11, 2016 Reply
  • Do I have to use the cream?

    - andrea on November 10, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Andrea, You can leave it out or substitute half & half or milk.

      - Jenn on November 10, 2016 Reply
  • This looks wonderful! I am looking forward to making it, but I’m not sure what to serve it with. Any suggestions for a sandwich / salad / bread / anything to pair with it to round out the meal?

    - Katherine on November 10, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this soup for Our Church Soup and sandwich day during the Home tour here in Vankleek Hill, It was an absolute hit many people ask for the recipe and ask if we could post it on our Church web site.
    Would this be allowed to post the recipe on our church web site.

    - Verne Gilkes on November 10, 2016 Reply
    • So glad everyone enjoyed it, Verne. Feel free to share with your church!

      - Jenn on November 10, 2016 Reply
  • I make a pumpkin soup every year for our Church Lunch which is held on the same day as Our Christmas Home Tour here in Vankleek Hill Ontario. I will be doing this recipe for the this years soup, I haven’t done it yet but it looks and sounds absolutely delicious. Will let you know how it went with all the visitors.
    Verne Gilkes

    - Verne Gilkes on November 3, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn…I am really looking forward to making this soup, and as I’m a big fan of curry I would like to add some. How much would you suggest so the flavor of the soup still comes through?

    - Glenda on October 31, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Glenda, I think a teaspoon or two would work nicely here. Hope you enjoy the soup!

      - Jenn on October 31, 2016 Reply
  • I am thinking of making this soup for Thanksgiving. How far in advance do you think I could make it? Have you tried freezing it? I would love your suggestions on how to make this in advance and simply warm it up that day.

    - Alisa Clancy on October 29, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Alisa, I think you could get away with making the soup 2 – 3 days ahead and refrigerating, or storing it in the freezer for 2 – 3 months. (If you plan to freeze it, I’d wait to add the cream when you’re reheating it.)

      - Jenn on October 29, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this soup yesterday and it was delicious! My children loved it… and it will be a go to recipe now for the fall.

    I have tried several of your recipes now and all were wonderful.

    Many thanks,
    Cathy

    - Cathy Potter on October 25, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This pumpkin soup is wonderful and perfect for Fall. The sweetness and the heat from the spices are very well balanced. I will definitely make this again, a great recipe to turn to when you have company and want to impress.

    - Jessica Gabrielsen on October 25, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This soup was fantastic. My husband took a bite and said “this is really good” when he says “really good”, that means it’s a good one. A winner in our household. :) I love your site and your recipes. :)

    - Amy Heatwole on October 22, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    A neighbor gave me a sugar pumpkin from her garden and, despite the fact that I don’t use often use pumpkin puree as an ingredient, I couldn’t let it go bad! So I dove in, found this recipe, and made it — roasting and pureeing a pumpkin for the first time in my life. Well, add to that, I’d run out of packaged chicken broth, so had to use broth from a recent chicken soup I made. The result?? Heavenly!! A very nicely nuanced soup, with several lovely layers of flavor. Thanks (again) for a slam-dunk recipe.

    - Robin Stamm on October 21, 2016 Reply
  • This soup was the bomb! We have a small B&B and in the autumn and winter we serve soup for breakfast instead of fruit. I used homemade stock and local apples. Topped it with a dollop of crème fraiche and some finely diced apple. Guests loved it!

    - Jacob Swartz House on October 21, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These days almost everything I bake or cook is from Once Upon a Chef, and unfailingly a big hit here. So I take full responsibility for this one fail – I used fresh pumpkin (can’t get the canned variety here), and it was missing the richness of roast pumpkin. Next time I’ve got the oven going anyway, I’ll toss in a pumpkin so I can try this soup again. Liked it anyway, and the kids did ask for it the next night.

    - Yvonne on October 21, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jen…
    This is too funny – today I want to use up all the pumpkin puree in the freezer and I have been looking for recipes for pumpkin soups. Opened your email and here is my answer to a savory pumpkin soup.

    I have one question can I use any other kind of onion (less quantities of course) instead of leeks.

    I’m making this for 30 Masonic men next month. I will use leek today because I always like to make the recipe exactly like it suppost to taste first and then change it up or down for my family.

    But is there a substitue for leeks????

    Sharon – Streetsville, Ontario

    - Sharon on October 19, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Sharon, While nothing has the same distinct mild taste that a leek has, I think you could get away with shallots here. (Based on the volume of leeks in the recipe, you’ll need a lot of shallots though!) I’d love to hear how it turns out if you use shallots.

      - Jenn on October 19, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This soup was delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

    - Andrea on October 18, 2016 Reply
  • How spicy is the soup? Can I cut down on the spice without compromising the flavor?

    - Paula on October 17, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Paula, it’s got a little kick but it’s not overly spicy. Feel free to omit the cayenne pepper if someone in your house is spice-averse. It will still be delicious!

      - Jenn on October 17, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Couldn’t wait to try this when I read the recipe. It was a hit, even without the cream. Your recipes are reliably good.

    - Nancy Dressel on October 15, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Jenn this was unreal! I made it for our late (Canadian) Thanksgiving this weekend. So so good, everyone loved it! Thank you!

    - Ellen on October 15, 2016 Reply
  • How much dried thyme should I use instead of fresh?

    - Rebecca on October 15, 2016 Reply
    • A good rule of thumb is to use 1/3 amount of the fresh called for, so I’d suggest 1/2 tsp.

      - Jenn on October 15, 2016 Reply
  • Hi, can’t find tinned pumpkin 🎃 Would roasted one do?

    - Dee on October 15, 2016 Reply
    • Yep!

      - Jenn on October 15, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Just made this and it was wonderful. My only change was to buy a big sweet onion. The leeks were too expensive. This may be the best soup I have ever made, and I make lots.

    - Jane on October 13, 2016 Reply
  • Hi!

    This recipe looks delicious, is there a milk/cream substitute? I am allergic to dairy. :(

    - Cindy on October 13, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Cindy, I think coconut milk could work here. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on October 13, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hello Jenn, Pumpkin Leek Soup recipe arrived today. Went right out and bought the ingredients. Being Canadian (Winnipeg, Manitoba) we love any recipe with Maple Syrup. Tasted the soup and it is marvellous and my family will certainly enjoy it for dinner. Great thank you for this recipe. Every one I have made is a winner. Looking forward to your Cook Book.
    Delicious Wishes,
    Yvonne Adams

    - Yvonne Adams on October 13, 2016 Reply
  • Can this soup be made ahead and re-heated before serving?

    - Katherine on October 13, 2016 Reply
    • Yes, Katherine – it reheats well!

      - Jenn on October 13, 2016 Reply
  • No canned pumpkin here, would it work to add one sugar pumpkin in cubes?

    - BWV on October 13, 2016 Reply
    • Sure, that would work beautifully.

      - Jenn on October 13, 2016 Reply
  • Do you think this pumpkin/leek soup would turn out well without the cream? All the other ingredient make this soup sound so good to me. PS. I have made several of your muffin recipes and they are all wonderful. The blueberry muffin recipe brought me to your site.

    - Tracy on October 13, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Tracy, It will work but a little cream goes a long way to enrich the soup and smooth out the flavor. You might try half-and-half, whole milk, or coconut milk instead.

      - Jenn on October 13, 2016 Reply

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