Pumpkin and Rice Soup

Silky textured and vibrant, the pumpkin soup I made as soon after 40 hours of travel back from India. It has a herby rosemary butter drizzle and lemon ginger pulp, and completely hits the spot.

Pumpkin and Rice Soup

The provisions were scarce when we got back from India the other night - my first winter squash of the year still on the counter, brown rice in the freezer, a bit of sad looking ginger on the windowsill, random nuts and seeds in the cupboard, herbs still going strong in the planter boxes out back, and a three week old knob of butter. That was pretty much it. But I felt exhausted after getting off the plane, and after forty hours of travel from door to door, I was determined cook at home. This simple soup was the first thing I made. It was silky textured, vibrant in color, and after a quick trip to the corner store in the morning for a bit of yogurt and a lemon - the lunchtime leftovers were even better. Particularly because of a finishing touch of a rosemary herby butter drizzle and lemon ginger pulp. I hope you find it as restorative as I did. Also! I wanted to tack some photos of one of my favorite experiences from India onto this post - the day Wayne and I had our photos taken on the street in Jaipur.

Pumpkin and Rice Soup Recipe

I'd read about this man, Tikam Chand. He has been taking pictures in the Old City of Jaipur using his grandfather's camera for decades. And, upon arriving in Jaipur, we set out to find him. No luck, at first. But a couple of days passed, and finally, at a moment we weren't looking, Wayne spotted a guy with an old camera on the sidewalk. We pulled over, hopped out, and it wasn't ten seconds before we were in front of the camera. Sixty seconds and five frames had been snapped. Sit here, look here, you two together, and so forth. I was thinking it was very much like getting a dental x-ray. Much more fun, but still - all business. And it wasn't Tikam with the camera, it was Surrender. I'm still not entirely clear on whether the two photographers share the camera, or if they're related.

Pumpkin and Rice Soup RecipePumpkin and Rice Soup Recipe

So, you have your picture taken, and that's when things start getting incredible. The processing is done right there on the street, and is finished in just a few minutes. A box in the back of the camera functions as the darkroom, negatives made from small sheets of hand-torn photo paper are slapped on a piece of wood, and shot again to make the positives. There's a bucket for rinsing. Your completed pictures (and negatives if you splurge for them) are unceremoniously wrapped in a zig-zag folded sheet of the daily newspaper. It all goes down fast, and somewhat hilariously. For those of you who are interested in the specifics of how this works, I found this (Jonas also has some amazing Jaipur photos).

Pumpkin and Rice Soup Recipe

The head-to-toe shot of us up above might be my favorite shot ever of the two of us together.

Pumpkin and Rice Soup Recipe

An out of focus shot of the camera from the front. All eyes on Krishna. There's no shutter, so to expose the frame, the red foil lens cap is moved to the side for a second or so. Part of what I loved about the whole experience was how unfussy, and non-technical it was. This guy had a good lens on a box set on a tripod that looked like a few sticks of driftwood bound together. And his photos are beautiful in a way you'll never get with a new camera. Completely inspiring.

Pumpkin and Rice Soup Recipe
Anyway! I have much more to share with you, in the meantime enjoy the soup. Trick it out with the good toppings (don't skimp on the pumpkin seeds), and I'm almost positive it'll become a staple for you this fall/winter - or, at least, I hope so. xo -h
Pumpkin and Rice Soup Recipe

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Pumpkin and Rice Soup

4 from 9 votes

For this soup I started with a 2 kg / 4 1/2 pound squash, and used about half of it.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 serrano chile, seeds and all, chopped
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds pumpkin/squash flesh, seeded, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice, pressed from grated ginger
  • cooked brown rice, warm
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • other toppings: plain yogurt, toasted pepitas, lemon ginger rosemary butter* (and pulp)
  1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallot, and serrano and a couple big pinches of salt. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the pumpkin and 6 cups of water (or less if you like a thicker soup), I make this one on the slightly thin side. 

  2. Bring just to a simmer and cook until squash is completely tender throughout, about 15 minutes. Note that the time it takes will differ between different squash/pumpkin varietals. Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender until smooth, and add the ginger juice. If you like an even thinner soup, add a bit more water at this point, then stir in more salt to taste, about 2 teaspoons.

  3. Serve over a big scoop of brown rice with lots of toasted pumpkin seeds (or pepitas), a dollop of yogurt, a drizzle of lemon ginger rosemary butter (and pulp).


Serves 4-6.

*Lemon Ginger Rosemary Butter: Melt 1/4 cup / 2 oz unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, long enough to let the butter start to brown a bit. Remove from heat and immediately stir in leaves from a 4-inch sprig of rosemary, zest of one lemon, I teaspoon grated ginger, and a good pinch of salt. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Strain the butter, and reserve the pulp to serve separately.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


I made this last night and it was sooo amazing! It will stay in our cold weather rotation!


Hello! This looks perfect for autumn. What kind of pumpkin or squash best lends itself to soup here? I have access to a wide variety but would love suggestions. Thanks!!


Oh Heidi! You've made me hungry and nostalgic all at the same time! Hungry for this soup (and I have your New Year Noodle Soup on my brain as well...can't wait to make that again!) and nostalgic for the process of developing photos by hand. I can still smell the fixer from my days in the darkroom and any reminder (so rare these days!) that I get of that process just makes me smile.


The pumpkin soup and and lemon rosemary butter were fantastic. I can't wait to make more of your recipes.


Heidi, I'm so delighted to read of this experience of yours. The entire thing is priceless — in awe! I traveled to India about three years ago, and from what I gather, traipsed a rather similar route to yours. It remains one of the most surreal highlights of my life thus far.


This soup was delicious! I made it with a package of pumpkin puree because I had one on hand and wanted to put a soup together quickly. It worked out well. The lemon rosemary butter was full of flavour. I loved every spoonful!


I'm a fall fantatic (who isn't these days?!), so I'm excited to test-drive this recipe :)


I was waiting for more cold weather to come to the South Bay(San Jose)before I made this, but the need for an easy supper tonight trumped all! I already had pumpkin puree in the freezer which made it quick. I made a few omnivore adjustments(used chicken broth and also served sliced pork tenderloin) but it was just the thing I've been wanting. Thanks to you, I discovered that my daughter(11) likes serrano peppers. I had chopped up the other half and put it on the table for my husband and I and next thing I know she has a piece in her mouth. Needless to say, she got a bit extra yogurt in her bowl.


Heidi, I made this yesterday and it is perfect for this time of year. Eating the leftovers for lunch today. I found a tip for pressing the ginger. I ran diced fresh ginger through my wheatgrass juicer and got two TB from a 2 oz pc in about 3 sec. It worked great. (it has to be a masticating juicer like a wheatgrass juicer to deal with the fibers though.)


This soup was FANTASTIC, thank you for a fresh, delicious recipe. Perfect for a cold autumn night. Loved the ginger and chile flavours.


Made this soup tonight with butternut squash - it was beautiful. The lemon, rosemary, ginger butter truly brings the soup to a new level!!


Your comment about your sad looking ginger caught my eye. Mine used to either dry out or go bad on me until I started storing it in the freezer. When you need ginger, you just grate it using a rasp grater. I don't even take the skin off - the grate is so fine no one notices. Of course, if you need slices, you'll probably want fresh, but I always keep some of it in the freezer. And if you wrap your celery in aluminum foil, it will be fresh for you even after a month away in India.


great post - love the photos. sounds delicious and very timely - wondered what to do with all that pumpkin!

alison mcquade

This turned out quite good. A bit on the spicy side. However, the Lemon Ginger Rosemary Butter is spectacular. Used left over on pop-corns. Quite nice!

Georges Auberger

Just went on a pumpkin shopping spree! Thanks for new ideas on how to tackle them all! Cheers, Sara

Add a Little Lemon

I have always used canned pumpkin in my recipes, but this year I'm inspired to cook my pumpkin from scratch. Your recipe will be the first I try with my fresh pumpkin!


oh, heidi, bingo! i've already commented, in anticipation, but had to follow up, as i'm sitting with a bowl of this soup, between myself and my keyboard. it is sublime, a complete slam-dunk, and i am so, so happy to have it in my life. the pulp totally makes the soup. and takes guts to post, i'm telling you. thanks for that. back to my soup...


Heidi - wow! lovely to hear about this photography process. the photos have such a cool quality to them. hope you had a great time in India and love to hear more about it. am off to India for winter and hope to bring back some nice stories and recipes of my own. Best,


This looks delicious..I'm making it tonight!


This was perfectly restorative for a busy week. Made the soup as written--I loved the creamy texture and spicy flavor. I made a curry ginger brown butter instead of the lemon rosemary butter, and it worked beautifully with the flavors in the soup--like a really good pumpkin daal. Would like to try the lemon rosemary ginger butter next time as well!


I made your delicious soup last night and included all the accompaniments. They really take the humble pumpkin soup to another level. As I was cooking for a vegan instead of butter I used coconut oil. That was delicious too. Loved the India story and pics.


All I have at home are jalepenos. Do you think that level of spice will impact the subtle nature of the soup? Regardless, I will report back after eating it tonight.

HS: Hey Richard! I think you'll be fine, but perhaps start with half and go from there.

Richard Rocca

Great story, great pictures, great food! What a combination! I like reading your inspiring stories.


I loved this!


I LOVE rice soups and it's such a cute idea to add the seeds to the side as well. Definitely going to give this a go in the next week or two.


Soup looks great. I can't believe that you had any energy left to cook something after all of that traveling. Pretty impressive.

Fork and Whisk

This soup was such a delight. Thanks, Heidi!

Jutta from Hamburg / Germany

The pumpkins soup is awesome. I managed to finish a batch before Sandy took the power out! Lucky here-no terrible damage. Leftover soup for work tonight-Yum


Heidi - Last night's dinner was a perfect respite from the rain, thanks to your recipe. I added a tart apple and some chopped elephant garlic to the mix and roasted the veggies instead of sautéing. The toasted pepitas and ginger juice were an inspired touch! Thank you for the kitchen guidance.


Gorgeous, decadent and satisfying! Your recipes are always beautifully presented and always sound delicious!

Julia {The Roasted Root}

welcome home !! sounds like it was a magical journey in india, looking forward to more stories & photos, but must thank you for what you've given us to start with...the photos taken of you & wayne are fantastic! what gems to treasure from this trip there, and the whole story behind the photos is amazing! so kewl, i just love that simplicity... now i'm off to make that soup!! ;-)


Lovely photos! I will definitely have to check out those links to more info on those Indian guys that you shared. On the pumpkin soup ... I hope this isn't a silly question, but how would you suggest that one press ginger juice from grated ginger? Do you just grate the ginger, then really mash / press it with a heavy handle....? I'd love to know a good technique, as I *adore* ginger, and would love to extract the potent ginger juice more often for other cooking endeavors.Thanks for the enjoyable post!

HS: Hi Tamsyn. I peel a knob of it, grate it on a microplane, then gather the grated ginger into a ball and press it hard against the grater - the juice runs through the holes. You could also press it against a fine strainer, but I find that's just one more thing to wash. Hope this helps!


I love the photographs! We're going to India in February, and Jaipur is on our list, so I really hope we stumble across this guy. I'm so looking forward to reading more about your trip, it will give me inspiration and something to look forward to now the clocks have gone back and it's cold, dark, and generally a bit miserable!


The photos from India are fabulous and the details about the vintage camera were a delight. Looking forward to more.


This sounds delicious and super light -- I love it. And those photographs.

Katie @ Oh Shine On

What an awesome experience! I'd love to stumble upon a photographer with a vintage camera set up like that in India. The darkroom straight on the street makes film photography seem so accesible. Soup looks great too. I absolutely love creamy veggie soups like this in autumn and winter.

Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir

Heidi, I read your blog all the time and adore it, I hardly ever comment but this soup looks like just what I need after a miserable day and a lot of rain here in London. What sort of squash did you use? I've got a really cute little butternut and a kabocha. And would you recommend coconut or olive oil in place of the butter (in both parts of the recipe) for a vegan version? I hope this can, literally, brighten up my evening tomorrow!

HS: Hi Hannah - either squash should work great (or a combination). And coconut or olive oil will work. I usually use coconut if I'm going to go with more of a curry/Thai flavor profile, olive oil if I'm leaning more Mediterranean.


Heidi I love when you use the words restorative to describe your food. This looks simple and wonderful.


Wow, those photos turned out so beautifully - I love the profiles of both you and Wayne. They're so elegant! What an interesting character! I can't wait to try out this soup, and to see more pictures from your wonderful travels. Thanks for sharing!

Addy @ Six-Kick Switch

Gorgeous photos and what an epic journey to find the photographer! Travel is soooooo fantastic - our big world makes our problems seem smaller, doesn't it? Although this is my first time to comment on your blog, I have been LOVING every moment of it. Thank you so much for creating/posting in such a beautiful blog. This soup will definitely be a winter staple for us! Cheers !! Lynne

Lynne Knowlton

This soup looks so delicious. Can't wait to hear about your trip. Great photos!

jeri kim lowe

I made the soup last night, along with 'Deborah Madison's' Irish soda bread. It was wonderful. Perfect for a snowy day here in Calgary! Thank you.


Posts on India from anyone who didn't grow up there make me fully realize the meaning of the word wistful. You see things through a different lens, one I wish I had when I lived there. I was in Jaipur in the late '90s as a student. I love Rajasthan, Jaisalmer especially. For me, the architecture, fabrics and food blew me away. The food (mirchi vadas? Yes, please! Hot vegetable curries and stir-fries? Yay!) especially enthralled me. So similar but so different form what my mother cooked further down and south, Waiting to see more of your photos.


It looks very delicious. Thanks a lot.


This is seriously amazing! I wish I knew about this guy, when I was in India last year. Incredible.


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