Pumpkin Harvest Soups and Pies

Pumpkin Harvest: Savoury Soups and Pies

Dive into the lesser-known world of savory pumpkin dishes. From hearty soups to unique pies, uncover recipes that transform your autumn meals. What secret ingredient makes these dishes irresistible?

Pumpkin harvest, the iconic symbol of autumn, is not just a time for crafting Halloween decorations or making sweet desserts. As the harvest season peaks from mid-September to late October, pumpkins come into their own in the kitchen, particularly in savoury dishes. This article will explore the delicious world of tasty pumpkin soups and pies, offering a fresh take on this versatile fruit.

  1. A Fruit, Not a Vegetable: Despite commonly being considered a vegetable, pumpkins are technically fruits because they contain seeds.
  2. Pumpkins in Space: In 1991, pumpkins were grown in space! Pumpkin seeds were taken aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia for a science experiment.
  3. Record-Breaking Sizes: The world record for the heaviest pumpkin ever grown is over 2,600 pounds – as heavy as a small car!
  4. Pumpkins Around the World: Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica. In Australia and New Zealand, “pumpkin” refers to the broader winter squash category.
  5. Ancient Origins: Pumpkins have been grown in North America for over 5,000 years. They are one of the oldest domesticated plants.
  6. More than Just Pies: Pumpkins were initially used in dishes like soups and stews before they became a staple in pies.
  7. Presidential Pumpkins: The White House hosts an annual pumpkin festival for Halloween, and various presidents have been known to grow pumpkins on the premises.
  8. A Symbol of Abundance: In many cultures, pumpkins symbolize abundance and prosperity, particularly during harvest festivals.
  9. Pumpkin Festivals: There are numerous pumpkin festivals held across the United States, featuring pumpkin carving, cooking contests, and other pumpkin-related activities.
  10. A Variety of Colors: While we typically think of pumpkins as orange, they can also come in white, blue, green, and even striped varieties.

The Pumpkin Harvest

Pumpkin Harvest

When the leaves start to turn, and the air gets crisp, it’s a sure sign that pumpkin harvest season is upon us. There’s something inherently cosy about pumpkins, isn’t there? Maybe it’s their vibrant orange hues reminiscent of autumn leaves or the anticipation of all the delicious dishes they bring.

Pumpkin harvest time varies, mainly depending on the climate. In the Southern USA states, pumpkins are usually ready to be plucked from the vine in early Autumn, while their northern counterparts reach peak ripeness in mid to late Autumn​​​​.

In the UK, October is usually the peak pumpkin harvest season. Regardless of where they’re grown, these pumpkins need about 90 to 120 frost-free days to mature, so planting typically happens just after the last frost in spring​​.

But did you know that pumpkins are technically fruits? That’s right! Because they contain seeds, they fall into the fruit category, but nutritionally, they’re more akin to vegetables. They’re relatives of squashes like butternut, acorn, spaghetti, zucchini, cucumbers, and melons​​.

The best time to harvest pumpkins is usually between mid-September and late October, just before the first hard frosts of winter set in​​​​. The timing is crucial, especially if you plan to use them for cooking. The ripeness of a pumpkin can significantly influence its flavour and texture, which is paramount in savoury dishes where pumpkin is the star.

So, next time you see a field of pumpkins, remember, they’re not just Halloween decorations or pie fillings. They’re a versatile culinary delight waiting to add warmth and flavour to your autumn meals.

Savoury Pumpkin Soups

Pumpkin Soups

There’s something about a warm bowl of soup that feels like a hug from the inside, especially during the cooler months. And when it comes to autumn flavours, pumpkin soup is a classic.

The foundation of an excellent pumpkin soup often starts with sautéing onions, maybe some garlic, in butter or oil. This simple step builds a flavour base that’s both fragrant and deeply satisfying. Next, in comes the pumpkin.

Whether you’re using fresh roasted pumpkin or the convenience of canned puree, the pumpkin is the show’s star. It adds not just its signature flavour but also a creamy texture that’s hard to beat​​​​.

But the spices and herbs take pumpkin soup from good to great. Traditional pumpkin spice can bring warmth and a hint of sweetness, while fresh sage adds a woodsy, aromatic quality. Adding thyme, ginger, cumin, or even a pinch of cayenne can create a more nuanced flavour profile​​​​​​for those who like a bit more complexity.

And let’s not forget about the broth. Chicken or vegetable broth adds depth to the soup and helps achieve that perfect consistency. After everything is combined and simmered to perfection, an immersion or standing blender can be used to puree the soup, ensuring a smooth, velvety texture without chunky bits.

Pumpkin soup is not just delicious; it’s also incredibly versatile. It can be a comforting meal or a delightful start to an autumn-themed dinner. And the best part? It’s usually simple to make, often ready in under an hour, filling your kitchen with the most inviting aromas.

Pumpkin Soup

Simple & Flavourful Pumpkin Soup


  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: Cream or coconut milk for a richer texture


  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic, cooking until the onion is translucent.
  2. Stir in the cumin and ginger, cooking for another minute until fragrant.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree and broth. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. For a richer texture, stir in some cream or coconut milk.
  6. Serve hot, garnished with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds or fresh herbs if desired.

Savoury Pumpkin Pies

Savoury Pumpkin Pies

The classic sweet, spiced version usually comes to mind when we think of pumpkin pies. However, the savoury pumpkin pie is a delightful twist on the traditional, offering a rich and flavourful experience perfect for autumnal meals.

Savoury pumpkin pie is akin to a quiche, often featuring a blend of pumpkin with ingredients like onions, garlic, and cheese, transforming the humble pumpkin into a hearty and satisfying dish. The process usually starts with a pie crust, which can be store-bought for convenience or homemade for an extra touch of love. The crust is filled with savoury pumpkin, roasted or mashed pumpkin, and other tasty additions like sweet potatoes​​.

The real magic happens with the flavour combinations. Imagine sautéed pumpkin with red onions, thyme, and crumbled feta cheese, baked until golden and delicious​​. Or add spices like smoked paprika, black pepper, and a touch of cayenne for a spicy and sweet pie​​. The possibilities are endless, allowing for creative experimentation with flavours and textures.

Savoury pumpkin pies can be a main course, a side dish, or a unique addition to a brunch spread. They pair wonderfully with salads, roasted vegetables, or a simple soup, making them versatile for any autumn gathering. And let’s not forget how these pies can be a conversation starter, intriguing your guests with their unexpected but delightful flavours.

In short, savoury pumpkin pies are a fantastic way to celebrate the versatility of pumpkins. They’re a testament to how this seasonal favourite can transcend its usual role in sweet treats and become a star in savoury creations.

Roasted Pumpkin and Feta Pie

Roasted Pumpkin and Feta Pie


  • 1 pre-made pie crust (9-inch)
  • 2 cups roasted pumpkin, cubed
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pumpkin, onion, and garlic, cooking until the pumpkin is tender and the onion is translucent.
  3. Stir in the thyme, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the pie crust in a pie dish. Spread the pumpkin mixture evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese on top.
  5. Fold over the edges of the crust to partially cover the filling, leaving the center open.
  6. Brush the crust with the beaten egg for a golden finish.
  7. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.
  8. Let it cool slightly before serving.

Variations and Substitutions for Pumpkin Recipes

To cater to different tastes and dietary needs, here are some variations and substitutions for our pumpkin recipes:

  1. For Soups: Add a swirl of coconut milk for a vegan option, or throw in some roasted red peppers for a smoky flavour. For a heartier soup, consider adding lentils or chickpeas.
  2. For Pies: Swap feta cheese with goat cheese for a tangier flavour, or add spinach for a pop of colour and nutrition. For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free pie crust.
  3. Spice It Up: Experiment with spices like smoked paprika, cinnamon, or nutmeg to add a different twist to your pumpkin dishes.
  4. Vegan and Vegetarian Options: Use plant-based broth in soups and pies, and replace dairy products with vegan alternatives like almond milk or vegan cheese.

These ideas can help personalise your pumpkin dishes, making them suitable for various preferences and dietary requirements.

Cooking Tips and Tricks for Pumpkins

Cooking with pumpkins can be a delightful experience, but knowing a few tips and tricks can make it even better. Here are some insights to help you make the most out of your pumpkin dishes:

  1. Choosing the Right Pumpkin: Not all pumpkins are created equal in cooking. For savoury dishes, look for ‘sugar pumpkins’ or ‘pie pumpkins,’ which are smaller, sweeter, and less fibrous than the larger varieties used for carving.
  2. Roasting Fresh Pumpkin: Roasting pumpkin enhances its natural sweetness. Cut the pumpkin into chunks, remove the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, and roast until tender. This process caramelises the edges, adding a depth of flavour that’s perfect for soups and pies.
  3. Enhancing Canned Pumpkin: If using canned pumpkin, sauté it briefly with butter and seasonings like garlic, sage, or thyme. This step helps to develop its flavour, making it more akin to freshly roasted pumpkin.
  4. Pumpkin Prepping: Don’t discard the seeds! Clean them, toss them with some oil and your favourite spices, and roast them for a crunchy snack. Also, pumpkin skin can be tricky, so use a sharp knife and be cautious when peeling or chopping.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can elevate your pumpkin cooking experience, ensuring your savoury dishes are as delicious as they are comforting.

Nutritional Profile of Pumpkin

Pumpkin isn’t just tasty; it’s also packed with nutrients. Here are some key nutritional highlights:

  • Rich in Vitamins: Pumpkins are high in vitamins A and C, which are great for your immune system and skin health.
  • Fibre Content: They are a good source of fibre, aiding digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness.
  • Low in Calories: Despite their sweetness, pumpkins are low in calories, making them a healthy addition to any diet.
  • Antioxidants: They contain antioxidants like beta-carotene, which can reduce inflammation and protect against certain diseases.

Incorporating pumpkin into your savoury dishes is not only a treat for your taste buds but also a boost for your overall health.

Pairing Suggestions for Savoury Pumpkin Dishes

Savoury pumpkin dishes can be wonderfully versatile, pairing beautifully with a variety of other foods and drinks. Here are some ideas to create a complete meal experience:

  1. With Soups: Serve your savoury pumpkin soup with a crusty loaf of bread or a side of toasted croutons. For a lighter option, pair it with a crisp green salad dressed in a tangy vinaigrette.
  2. With Pies: Savoury pumpkin pies go well with roasted vegetables, like Brussels sprouts or carrots, which complement the pie’s richness. A side of mixed greens or a beetroot salad can add a refreshing contrast.
  3. Wine Pairings: A glass of Chardonnay or a light Pinot Noir can complement the creamy, earthy flavours of pumpkin. For non-alcoholic options, consider a sparkling apple cider or a ginger-infused lemonade.

These pairing suggestions can help elevate your savoury pumpkin dishes, making them perfect for a cosy dinner or a special autumn gathering.

Conclusion: Celebrating the Versatility of Pumpkin Harvest

As we’ve explored, pumpkins are much more than just a symbol of autumn or a canvas for Halloween carvings. Their versatility in the kitchen, especially in savoury dishes like soups and pies, is something truly to be celebrated. Whether you’re roasting them to bring out their natural sweetness or blending them into a creamy soup, pumpkins have a unique way of making any meal feel like a special autumnal event.

The recipes and tips we’ve shared are just the beginning. There’s a whole world of savoury pumpkin dishes out there waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. From the nutritional benefits to the sheer joy of cooking with this seasonal favourite, there are plenty of reasons to incorporate more pumpkin into your autumn menus.

So, the next time you pick up a pumpkin, think beyond the pie. Consider the savoury possibilities that can warm your table and your heart during the autumn season.

Pumpkin FAQs

  1. Can all pumpkin varieties be used for cooking?
    • Not all pumpkins are ideal for cooking. Some varieties, like the large ones used for carving, are watery and bland. For cooking, look for smaller, sweeter varieties like sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins.
  2. How do you store fresh pumpkin?
    • Fresh pumpkin should be stored in a cool, dark place. Once cut, it can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to a week. Cooked pumpkin can also be frozen for longer storage.
  3. Can canned pumpkin be used in place of fresh pumpkin?
    • Yes, canned pumpkin is a convenient substitute for fresh pumpkin. It’s best to use plain canned pumpkin rather than pumpkin pie filling, which contains added sugars and spices.
  4. Are pumpkins healthy?
    • Absolutely! Pumpkins are low in calories but high in vitamins A and C, fibre, and antioxidants. They’re a nutritious addition to any diet.
  5. How do you know when a pumpkin is ripe?
    • A ripe pumpkin will have a deep, solid colour, and the skin will be hard. The pumpkin should sound hollow when tapped, and the stem will be woody.
  6. Can pumpkin seeds be eaten?
    • Yes, pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are edible and nutritious. They can be roasted for a crunchy snack or used as a garnish in various dishes.
  7. What spices pair well with pumpkin in savoury dishes?
    • Herbs and spices like sage, thyme, rosemary, garlic, and cumin complement the earthy flavour of pumpkin well in savoury recipes.
  8. Is pumpkin suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets?
    • Pumpkin is an excellent ingredient for vegetarian and vegan diets. It can be used in a variety of dishes and easily adapted to suit these dietary preferences.

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