Canned Pumpkin Is The Secret To Creamier Dairy-Free Soups

Pumpkin soup and slices
Pumpkin soup and slices - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

Soup is a staple of cold weather months, but there is perhaps no type of soup that is more comforting than a creamy one. With a velvety texture that melts in your mouth, it is hard to resist dairy-based soups like classic corn chowder or dreamy cream of potato. If you have food sensitivities or dietary restrictions, however, there is another way to achieve that luscious texture without any butter or cream. The secret is canned pumpkin.

Canned pumpkin can be used for far more than making a pie. Pumpkin, much like potatoes, corn, and several other vegetables, is quite high in starch. Starch is an excellent tool for creating a thick and luxurious texture in dishes, because the molecules that make up the starch will absorb some of the water in the dish, causing them to become gelatinous. In the right amount, however, starch will stop just short of turning your soup into jelly, instead giving it the perfect body to coat your tongue and satisfy your palate. Since pumpkin contains a wealth of these magical molecules, even a small amount will have a noticeable impact.

Read more: 23 Types Of Potatoes And When To Use Them

How To Creatively Flavor Pumpkin Soup

A jar of pumpkin puree alongside some spices
A jar of pumpkin puree alongside some spices - Maslova Valentina/Shutterstock

The way in which you utilize pumpkin to elevate your soup depends on how much flavor you want to detect in the dish itself. If you want to fully celebrate the sweet, earthy taste of the vegetable, you can make it the central focus by adding it in a large quantity to create a pumpkin soup. Embrace the classics by adding in other autumnal flavors like nutmeg, sage, and butternut squash, or take a more adventurous turn by playing with spices from other cuisines. Cumin and chili powder will give the soup a southwestern flare, while garam masala, coriander, and turmeric will make it perfect for an Indian-inspired meal.

You may not want to commit to a super pumpkin-y soup, however, and while adding more pumpkin will always make for a creamier result, you can also add a lesser amount to get the thickening effect without the punch of flavor. This works particularly well if the star of the soup is complementary to pumpkin or strong enough to mask it. For example, carrots share the vegetal notes of pumpkin and ginger is a powerful flavor, making carrot ginger soup a perfect candidate for this trick. On the other end of the spectrum, black beans carry a strong enough umami, earthy edge that — with the addition of some seasonings, like in this spicy black bean soup — a small amount of pumpkin would easily fade into the background.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.