Chunky Pumpkin Soup Recipe

After years of whizzing all of my soups to liquid velvet, I have recently and suddenly become a chunky soup convert.

This change of preference happened overnight, and I don’t know what prompted it, but ever since the beginning of the fall and the first batches of the season, I can’t think of a more desirable soup format than cubes, coins, and ribbons of vegetables intermingling in a broth. There’s chew and slurp, and the combination of the two provides a greater satisfaction than one or the other.

A few things to keep in mind when preparing that type of soup: first, the vegetables need to be cut into even sizes and shapes, so they’ll form a coherent ensemble in the bowl. This is of less concern when you’re preparing a mixed soup, but here you have to imagine that the pieces you add in will essentially remain the same when cooked, so you want smaller than bite-sized morsels.

I can’t think of a more desirable soup format than cubes, coins, and ribbons of vegetables intermingling in a broth. There’s chew and slurp, and the combination of the two provides a greater satisfaction than one or the other.

Second, you’ll get best results if the ingredient mix you use includes one that’ll give body to the soup, and by that I mean enough starch that the broth has substance, rather than feel watery. A small amount of floury potatoes or split peas works well.

Third, if you find yourself in a position to add a sprinkle of fresh herbs — leaves or blossoms — at the surface of the bowls, the soup will light up and love you for it. Nuts are a fine topping, too, and if you happen to have a colossal supply of walnuts, you may agree that they’re very much a one-nut-fits-all for autumn soups.

My current favorite version, which I’ve been making weekly for the past month, is this chunky pumpkin soup: it involves pumpkin (now that’s a surprise), shallots, potatoes, and the greens from Swiss chard or a bunch of young turnips.

Here are the tricks that make it, in my humble opinion, really really good: one, I use a mix of floury and waxy potatoes, so the former thicken the soup while the latter provide little cubes of potato flesh to bite into. And two, when the soup is cooked, I lace it with a good spoonful of harissa, the North African purée of hot chilies and garlic, and this gives it a one-two punch of warmth and spiciness.

Like all soup recipes, this one may be configured to fit your preference and the ambiant mood in your vegetable drawer: just last week, I included the stem of a head of broccoli leftover from making a broccoli salad (please tell me you don’t throw these out), and two weeks before that, I’d added white radishes, finely sliced to the point of transparency, and scattered at the surface like rice paper confetti.


If you’re celebrating Thankgiving this Thursday and are still trying to decide what to make, this soup could be a good, easy option. I can also suggest the following recipes:
~ Carrot and rosemary mini-scones,
~ Mâche salad with endives and beets,
~ Sunchoke soup with bacon,
~ Brussels sprouts with onions and squash seeds,
~ Saffron-roasted cauliflower,
~ Swiss chard gratin with vegan bechamel,
~ Gratin dauphinois (potato gratin),
~ Carrot and ginger quickie pickle,
~ Banana pecan cake with maple glaze,
~ Quince and almond cake,
~ Brown butter spiced crisp.

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Chunky Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serves 6

Chunky Pumpkin Soup Recipe


  • 3 medium onions or large shallots, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • one big wedge pumpkin, about 1.5 kilos (3 1/3 pounds), seeded, peeled and diced
  • 4 small or 2 medium potatoes, ideally half waxy and half floury, scrubbed (I don't peel them) and diced
  • vegetable or chicken stock, ideally homemade
  • the greens from 2-3 stalks of Swiss chard or the tops from a bunch of turnips, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon harissa, or to taste
  • cilantro blossoms or leaves, for garnish
  • walnuts, shelled and crumbled, for garnish (optional)
  • vegetable oil
  • salt


  1. Heat a good drizzle of oil in a soup pot. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add the cumin seeds and cook for another minute or two, until fragrant.
  2. Add the pumpkin and potatoes, sprinkle with salt, and add stock to cover the vegetables (top up with water if necessary). Cover, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and the pumpkin is soft.
  3. Remove the soup from the heat, and mash it just a little with the wooden spoon so you have a good mix of textures.
  4. Dissolve the harissa in a spoonful of the cooking liquids in a small bowl, and stir it into the soup. Add the minced greens and stir them in; they will cook quickly in the hot liquid.
  5. Taste, adjust the seasoning and heat, then serve with a sprinkle of cilantro blossoms or leaves, and crumbled walnuts, if you have them.
  • Mona

    Sounds great, thanks for sharing. Have you ever tried adding fresh lovage to the soup right at the end of cooking? I discovered this wonderful herb last summer and now I’m in love with lovage:)

    • No, I’ve never tried it! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used lovage at all (livèche in French). I will have to try and locate it when summer comes!

  • I love this idea for chunky soups. Mine are also always smooth as silk, whether vegetable or gazpacho.

    I like the idea of some chunks and body. It works for salsa (love chunky salsa); so it would work for soup too!

  • Amy

    This soup sounds divine! One thing that I’ve been doing to thicken soups: throw in more veggies than you’ll want in the finished product. When everything is cooked and the whole thing is about ready to eat, I ladle out a mess of veggies with a little broth and I put it in the blender. I puree it and then mix it back in! So it thickens the soup and intensifies the flavor of the stock. It works for almost everything.

  • Luna

    I am, being Irish, a great lover of floury potatoes – but I haven’t quite cracked which potatoes are floury here since moving to France a year ago, and always seem to end up with waxy. Can you recommend a type if I’m looking for floury?


    • Floury potatoes are called pommes de terre à chair farineuse in French, and good examples include the monalisa and the bintje. Hope that helps!

  • I’ve recently switched over to chunky soups (but my kids still prefer mixed). There is something comforting about cutting up all the vegetables the same size.
    ps I love your carrot and rosemary mini scones…a big hit chez moi :)

  • In the US, we usually do chunky soups. It is only when I moved to France that I learned to make smooth soups… and it changed my life! I can make a delicious smooth vegetable soup in less than 30 minutes any night of the week… a very handy way to get a healthy vegetable dinner on the table to the kids.
    I do enjoy a good chunky soup every once in a while whenever I have time. I use to do a soup similar to this with chard and pumpkin. Instead of using potatoes, I would give the soup a 3 second mix with the hand blender to thicken the broth.

    • I hadn’t realized the smooth soup might be an Old World thing!

  • Love the addition of cilantro in this soup. I prefer chunky myself, has such a homey feel (and not to mention less work and cleanup). Looking forward to yet another way to celebrate the season of the pumpkin, thanks!

  • I always blend my soups because it’s easier and they re-heat better. You have to be a better cook to make chunky soups I think.

  • Barbara W in FL

    Same thing happened to me. Once I pureed a mixed vegetable soup and everything was indistinguishable and I hated that soup. Ever since I don’t want pureed, smoothed soups, even the pictures turn me off. So thanks for the chunky presentation which is so much more appealing. I could not eat a silky smooth pumpkin soup but chunky is altogether different.

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for years now! Thank you!

  • Happy Thanksgiving, if you’re celebrating! I have always loved chunky soups better and am glad to heat that you’re now a convert. That can only mean that we’ll be getting more of these soups from you :)

  • This is very similar to a vege soup I made the other week :) I also stored it in plastic cups in the freezer for instant hot soup on cold days. Just thin it down with water, milk or sour cream.
    I’ve never been one for thin soups, I was raised on chunky soups.
    Good thing is, my husband doesn’t like them unless they’ve been pureed – more for me ;)

  • Yeah! I am indeed celebrating Thanksgiving and am looking for appropriate dinner fixings. The soup sounds great, and the list looks very promising, thank you!

  • Out of all the thousands of pumpkin recipes this season is surrounded by, this is the first ‘chunky’ one I have come across! And it looks delicious ;) I love all of the in-depth soup discussion!

  • Rachel

    Like Cassandra, I also grew up eating chunky soups and only discovered the pureed variety when I moved to Europe… now I love both! That said, I have about five recipes for pumpkin veloute and not a single one for chunky pumpkin soup, so this will make a most welcome addition to my repertoire. I think I may try it with potimarron as long as I can find them at the farmer’s market.

  • “There’s chew and slurp”- indeed that’s why I liked chunky soups. As I am always making pumpkin soups, I’ll try your other recipes. Happy Thanksgiving!:)

  • I am a huge fan for harissa in soups as well – it adds that little something that you can’t just pin but makes the difference (well if you add enough – which happens quite often here – you can actually tell what the little something is).
    Are the flowers in the picture cilantro flowers? They are so pretty, but I never saw a bunch of cilantro with flowers. Are they as tasty as the leaves? thanks!

    • Yes, the flowers in the picture are cilantro blossoms! Their flavor is definitely related to that of cilantro leaves, but it is quite a bit more potent. They’re wonderful!

  • Chunky or smooth – I simply love soup, but my all time favorite happens to fall in the chunky category – Pistou, the Provencal vegetable soup. With a dollop of pesto and some grated cheese, it’s delicious and so satisfying.

    • Yes, soupe au pistou is one of my all-time favorites, too — I’ve included my grandmother’s recipe in my cookbook, actually. It’s a wonderful end-of-summer treat.

  • Hi Clotilde,
    I absolutely love chunky soups because they just feel heartier and more satisfying, and I recently made one with cauliflower, lentils and an Indian spice blend. Yours sounds absolutely delicious with the combination of pumpkin, harissa and cumin. I always use nuts for added flavor(and protein) as well. I love smooth, velvety soups as well when I’m in the mood for something lighter.

    • Mmm, cauliflower and lentils sounds like a fantastic combination, thanks for sharing!

  • I prefer chunky and thick soups too as opposed to just plain thick or thin consistencies. I don’t feel deprived if I could actually bite in to veggies in my soup.

  • Clotilde,
    I just put your yummy looking pumpkin soup recipe up on my Spirit of Pistoulet
    Facebook page. I am sure all our followers will like it.
    Thanks for your lovely and unusual recipes.

  • I love all soup, chunky or pureed! This looks delicious, especially with the harissa!

  • Sounds delicious!!

    I´ll try it.


  • I love harissa and I love pumpkin! I’m certainly going to try this one :) I’m delighted with this chunky version, you don’t find that too often for pumpkin soup.

  • This sounds gorgeous and I’ve added the recipe to my favourites to try later. I’ve never added harissa to soup, but I’ve got some lurking in the back of my cupboard waiting for the right recipe to come along!

  • Dory

    I occasionally make pureed soups, but they can easily bring back bad memories of a dormitory I lived in in Spain, many years ago. The food was quite spectacularly bad, as much institutional food is. One woman at my table found a whole, uncut and rubbery chicken skin in her lentils to give just one example. (It was pretty ugly to see her fish it out with a fork and pass it around the table). Almost every meal began with a puré– the previous meal’s leftovers blended and thinned out with water. I do prefer chunky. I have been using a lot of squash and chard in soups and stews this fall, so you must have read my mind. I am going to try your version. Thanks.


    • I can see how that would turn you off for a while… :)

  • I made a similar soup this weekend and blogged about it on The Spring. I still puree mine… Perhaps I’ll try it chunky next time! Thanks for the idea.
    – Catherine at The Spring

  • Oh my goodness–I just saw you on TV in a recent episode of Diary of a Foodie (about the New Wave movement in Paris). It seems unreal to have been reading your blog for so long and then see the person behind the words; still, I do wish I could someday travel to Paris and experience this exciting new style of cuisine.
    Keep up the excellent posts and thanks for doing a spot for American public TV, goodness knows we need more of this. ;)

    Also, chunky soups for the win. It’s so much more satisfying to not only taste the vegetables, but feel them work together in that slow-simmered complexity of a good stew.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you liked the show.

  • Looks so delicious! My hubby would go nuts with this=)

  • Beautiful! I love pumpkin and I love soups so this sounds like a dream to me.

  • Diana

    Made the gratin dauphinois by boiling the potatoes on the stove in milk until the turkey came out of the oven, then put them in a flat pan with the milk while the turkey sat and the gravy cooked down on the stove. Took the potatoes out and served them from the pan after everyone had their slice of turkey. They were awesome and quite hot, so thank you for posting this recipe! It worked perfectly with the timing of the turkey.

    • I’m delighted to hear it, Diana, thanks for reporting back and sharing your timing strategy! I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

  • Pumpkin is like a tofu, so versatile but taste can sometimes be so boring, if you don’t spice it up.
    I recently made this Moroccan Green-leaf Jam that would be perfect addition to the soup, like harissa.
    I have few more ideas about a pumpkin on my blog

  • Val

    I never really thought of it but I never leave my soups chunky. I find something really satisfying about a thick creamy soup. I do like the idea though of leaving some chunks.

    This soup looks like a great hearty winter warmer. A fantastic way to use up all your veggies too. Lovely.

  • The soup looks amazing! I can’t wait to try this recipe out! Thanks!
    Love your blog, btw!
    Please stop by my blog if you have a minute:)

  • In Italy, nearly all soups are chunky style, which gives them a slightly rustic and not overly sophisticated feel — real home-style cooking al’Italiana. We only became partially converted to smooth soups once we moved to Paris 11 years ago. But even then, we only like them semi-smooth, either pushed through a food mill fitted with the disk with the biggest holes, or whizzed up quickly with a hand-held, wand-style blender. Leek and potato soup always tastes best to me on the smooth side, while lentil or ceci soups taste best to me chunky. I’m eager to try your pumpkin soup recipe, Clotilde; it looks perfect for these frigid days!

  • chefgrantedwards

    Hi, the picture looks great. Everything looks fresh and natural. Have you ever heard of the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival? Thousands of people travel from all over the Bay Area to celebrate the pumpkin.

    I really enjoy finishing hearty soups with fresh olive oil. Check out the Organic 2010 Three Hoots Olive Oil. This particular oil has complimenting notes of artichoke and pepper. The pumpkins and artichokes grow side by side on the coastal farms.

    They also known for their amazing wines.

  • Judy

    I grow pumpkins in my garden, so I’m always looking for recipes. I made this soup last night, and my daughter said it was fantastic. She does not exaggerate. I used some minced garlic and chipotle chile in adobo sauce instead of the harissa.

    • I’m delighted you had good success with this recipe, Judy, thanks for sharing your version!

  • After you kept tweeting about this, I had to try it. I needed to use up some butternut squash so I subbed that for the pumpkin. I didn’t have any chard or turnip greens, but I had some spinach. I started the afternoon off making my first ever batch of Harissa to use especially for this dish. Clotilde! No wonder you keep making this! I LOVE it! Because I have plenty of Harissa to use up, more butternut squash, and a lonely pumpkin on my porch, I will be making this several times over in the next couple of weeks, I am sure.

    • I’m very happy you enjoyed it, Dayna, and kudos for making your own harissa! I’ve finally run out of the big jar I bought in Tunisia last spring, so I’m planning to do the same soon.

  • batch #2 is on the stove, it is indeed a great soup!
    Instead of Harissa I use smoked paprika and a hint of cayenne, and as I didn’t have any greens in the house last time I just did without.(as I will do today :-) )
    Today I had some leeks around so I used that together with the onions. Smells great already.

    • I’m delighted you like it, Swan. The leftovers of my own batch #umpteen are in the fridge as we speak. :)

  • Lesley

    I tried this soup on a snowy Saturday for lunch. I didn’t have Harrisa so I threw in some curray powder and red pepper flakes. What an awesome soup! I definitely will be making it again.

    • That’s great to hear, Lesley, thank you!

  • Charlotte

    I will definitley try this recipe at my GourMate ( dinner tomorrow! Thanks, Clotilde!

  • Leanna

    Looks so yummy! I’m a smooth soup lover my my italian fiance keeps moaning at me to make chunky soups instead, so i’m giving this one a go tonight! Do you think that turnips will go well in it? I have them so i can use the greens, but thought why not put them in too!

  • Alyce

    I like it! Your soup has “gone a little American”!

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