Pumpkin Soup with Caramelized Onions
It’s all things pumpkin right now and for good reason: it’s delicious. Pumpkin Soup with Caramelized Onions makes for a yummy lunch, first course, or dinner. It’s the pepitas and deliciously good onions that take this soup to another level.
Most people mess up caramelized onions. I do, too. Because we are not a patient lot, we want to hurry along the process and wind up with slightly scorched sauteed onions.
Those aren’t caramelized.
Making caramelized onions takes patience. I know we need them right now, but that is not the way, Padawan. Caramelization takes time.
The steps to making caramelized onions include:
- Slicing the onions with the grain from root to stem, lengthwise. This allows the pieces to keep their structure and not disintegrate into mush.
- Using a saute pan or skillet that is large enough to accommodate the onions without crowding. You want the onions to brown, not steam, and that requires contact with the pan surface.
- Cooking them low and slow. The heat should be medium to medium-low. There should be very little stirring initially, but more stirring as they near the end of the cooking time to prevent sticking.
- Adding salt or sugar is not necessary, but if you choose to do so, add it towards the end of the cooking time.
- Deglazing the pan is also not necessary, but if the onions are starting to stick you can add a few teaspoons of water, wine, or vinegar.
The process of cooking onions this way softens them and reduces their moisture content. This releases the sugars, which when combined with the heat results in caramelization, aka deliciousness. They are a perfect garnish for a creamy pumpkin soup.
Plus, roasted pepitas add crunch!
What’s the difference between pumpkin seeds and pepitas? Pumpkin seeds are the cream-colored seeds found inside most orange pumpkin varieties. These seeds need to be cooked before being eaten.
Pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed that is found in certain yellow and green-striped pumpkins. The shell-less seeds are green and can be eaten raw or toasted. I think they are especially delicious when toasted with some oil and a few spices.
Living in Southern California, I find pepitas at the local grocery store, farmers markets, and even Costco. If you don’t have access to them where you live, they are also available online from Amazon and other retailers. You can use them to garnish soups, salads, desserts, yogurt, and ice cream as well as eat them on their own.
- This recipe has three components but you don’t have to make them all on the same day. The soup itself only takes 30-ish minutes. It would be delicious paired with Ligurian Focaccia.
- The caramelized onions and pepitas can be made and stored up to a week in advance. And I like to make a double batch of each to use in other recipes.
- Want to make this vegan? Omit the butter or swap it for vegan butter.
Many thanks to Recipe Tin Eats for the pumpkin soup recipe, Simply Recipes for the detailed directions on how to caramelize onions, and Muy Bueno Cookbook for the roasted pepitas recipe.Print
Pumpkin Soup with Caramelized Onions
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- 2 large white onions
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup pepitas
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cans (15 oz. each) unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
- 1 tsp celery seed
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Chopped parsley for garnish
Make the caramelized onions:
- Slice the onions lengthwise from root to stem so they will hold their structure once caramelized. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir to coat before spreading evenly in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the onions to cook without stirring them for 10 minutes.
- Stir the onions and continue to cook on medium or medium-low for 30 more minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. If they look dry, you can add a tablespoon of water.
- In the last 15 minutes of the cooking time, you will need to stir the onions more often so they don’t stick to the pan and burn.
- Remove from the heat and set aside. They can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for one week or frozen for 3 months.
Roast the pepitas:
- Stir together the pepitas, paprika, cumin, salt, and oil. Pour the seeds onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread out into an even layer. Roast at 350 F/176C for 12 minutes, stirring once.
- Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, they can be stored in a covered container on the countertop for several weeks.
Make the soup:
- Sauté the onions in a large pot until they are just tender.
- Add the pumpkin, garlic, broth, celery seed, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until nearly smooth.
- Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Top with a spoon of caramelized onions, roasted pepitas, and chopped parsley.
I will be trying this one for sure! Looks so yummy!
Thanks Ceci! I hope you enjoy it!