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Tropical Pumpkin Soup

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Recipe From Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

North Americans have a love affair with pumpkin that’s only expressed in the fall months, but in Latin American it’s a yearlong romance. Tropical pumpkins look and taste a little different than the pumpkin pie–type pumpkins. Calabaza pumpkin is a Latin variety commonly found in markets in the United States. It’s a huge winter squash that’s often sold precut into smaller chunks, making it convenient for making soup or adding fresh pumpkin into recipes at a whim.

The first time I had this soup at fourteen years old, I was mesmerized by how my aunt transformed auyama (Venezuelan pumpkin) into a creamy soup with just three ingredients: squash, potato, and stock. Since then I’ve added a few more ingredients with a Caribbean flair. Try it with coconut oil at least once; I guarantee you’ll love it. Just about any orange-flesh winter squash can also be substituted for the calabaza, too.

Serves 4
Time: 45 minutes
Soy Free (if a nonsoy cream substitute used)


  • 2 tablespoons unrefined (virgin) coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 large leek, well washed, ends trimmed, and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons white cooking wine or water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1½ pounds calabaza pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ pound waxy white potatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream substitute or coconut milk (optional, for extra super-creamy soup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint


    1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add coconut oil and leek and fry until the leek is soft, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin and wine and simmer for about a minute, stirring occasionally. Pour in the veg- etable broth and add the pumpkin, potatoes, and thyme. Cover and bring the soup to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat to low and simmer the soup for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pumpkin and potatoes are very ten- der and mash easily with the back of a wooden spoon.
    2. Remove the thyme sprigs, if using. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to a silky- smooth consistency. If you want to use a blender, allow soup to cool for at least 15 minutes, puree, then return to the soup pot. Season the soup with lime juice, heavy cream substitute (if using), salt, and pepper and over low heat warm the soup as desired. Ladle the soup into serving bowls, sprinkle each serving with chopped cilantro and chopped mint, and serve immediately.
    Make-ahead Tip: Make the entire soup up to two days in advance, minus the cilantro-mint topping. Make that just before heating and serving the soup.
Photo by Flicker user Paul Lomax / CC BY-NC 2.0

Reminder: The ingredients in a recipe determine if it should be eaten every day, some days, or on special occasions. It's up to you and you doctor to determine what can be part of a healthy diet for you and any special needs you may have.

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Photo by Flicker user mollycakes / CC BY-NC 2.0

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