When the leaves begin to change and the weather starts to cool, seasonal recipes start popping up and one of the most popular seasonal ingredients to cook with is pumpkin. Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that is known not only for its beautiful orange color but also for its versatility. This squash can be used in a wide variety of recipes ranging from cakes and pies to soups and stews. What is it that makes pumpkin such a popular ingredient? Not only does it have a delicious flavor, but it is also loaded with exciting health benefits.
Pumpkin is a nutrient-dense food which means that it is fairly low in calories but heavy in nutrients. A single 100-gram serving of pumpkin contains only 26 calories but provides 0.5 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of protein and almost no fat. In terms of vitamins and minerals, a one-cup serving of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200% of your daily recommended value for vitamin A, an essential vitamin for healthy vision. Pumpkin is also rich in beta carotene, an antioxidant which may help to prevent certain types of cancer. Carotenoids, another type of antioxidant, are also in abundance in pumpkin and they can help to keep your skin looking smooth and fresh, free from wrinkles. Pumpkin is also rich in the mineral potassium which not only helps to maintain your body’s electrolyte balance but also helps you to recover more quickly after an intense workout.
In addition to these nutritional benefits, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can also provide some serious mental health benefits. For example, pumpkin seeds are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan which aids the brain in the production of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone which boosts your mood. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of phytosterols, a type of plant-based chemical which may reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol levels. The dietary fiber found in pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can help to regulate your digestion and it may help you to feel fuller for longer, thus helping you to avoid those unhealthy snacks that lead to weight gain.
By now you should have a firm understanding of the many health benefits pumpkin can provide, but none of that information matters unless you actually eat the pumpkin! That is where this delicious roasted pumpkin soup recipe comes into play. Made with fresh pumpkin and seasoned with cinnamon and ginger, this creamy pumpkin soup is just what you need to warm you up on a cool fall day. This recipe is the perfect opportunity to put your blender to use as well.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Servings: 6 to 8
- 2 sugar pumpkins (total 5 to 6 lbs.)
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 8 to 10 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- Preheat your oven to 450°F and set out a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Take your sugar pumpkin and carefully cut it in half with a large, sharp knife.
- Scoop out the seeds and the pulp from the center of the pumpkin then chop the pumpkin into 1-inch or 2-inch chunks and place them on the baking sheet.
- Add the onion, ginger and garlic to the baking sheet then toss the whole mixture with ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheet then roast it for 15 minutes.
- Use a large spoon or spatula to toss the vegetables then roast for another 15 or 20 minutes until the pumpkin is very tender.
- Let the pumpkin cool a little bit then peel away the skin and discard it.
- Transfer the pumpkin, onions and garlic to a large stockpot and heat it over medium heat.
- Stir in four cups of vegetable broth and bring it to a boil.
- Transfer the mixture to your blender and blend it smooth in batches, adding more vegetable broth as you blend.
- Return the soup to the stockpot and bring it to a simmer.
- Stir in the cinnamon and ginger, then season with salt and pepper to taste then spoon the soup into bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds to serve.