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You Can Grow It: Cooking up some pumpkin soup at BUGS

The culinary instructor at the Boise Urban Garden School shows Jim Duthie how to make some pumpkin coconut curry soup for Halloween.

It’s the pumpkin season, and we’ve got a great pumpkin curry coconut soup for you for Halloween.

Halloween is just next week already, and pumpkins seem to have taken over everything. But they don’t have to be just decorations. They can be the main course for your fall dinner.

Garden master Jim Duthie is cooking with BUGS. Not the creepy crawly bugs, but with a culinary instructor at BUGS, that’s Boise Urban Garden School. It sounds like a trick – but it’s really a delicious treat.

This time of year everything is pumpkin, right? It seems like the minute we moved into fall, it’s pumpkin everything.. Pumpkin spice, pumpkin you name it. And so we’ve come down here to the Boise Urban Garden School, or BUGS, to talk about pumpkins. Pohley Ritchie is a registered dietician and a culinary instructor at BUGS. So we’re going to talk about some pumpkin soup today.

“Yes. So pumpkin isn’t just for lattes anymore, Jim. It’s actually... You can use pumpkin… I love it so much. It goes sweet, savory, just about anything. Pumpkin is so nutritious for you, lots of Vitamin A, potassium. Foods with a lot of Vitamin A and potassium have been shown to lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. It has fiber in it, and it just tastes delicious.”

RELATED: Kids learn about sustainability at the Boise Urban Garden School

“And it’s so versatile. You end up with being able to decorate it, you end up with being able to eat it, and you end up with these delicious seeds afterwards.”

“Yes. So when we’re cooking with pumpkin, you want to cook with these smaller pumpkins. These are called sugar pie pumpkins, typically… You do not want to cook necessarily with one of these big ones that you would carve as a Jack-o-lantern. It just won’t have the flavor in it for you.”

You can use canned pumpkin, but today we’re using a fresh pumpkin. Carefully cut it in half and remove the seeds and the pulp.

“And you can save these seeds for roasting… Roasted seeds are delicious. You can go sweet or savory with them.”

Next, use a vegetable peeler to scrape off the outer skin from the pumpkin.

“So, then what I’ve got here are two halves of a pumpkin that I already peeled.”

Then cut it up into smaller pieces.

“We’re going to want to put these in our broth.”

“So this is a really super simple soup.”

And it’s completely plant-based. Start off with some vegetable broth, then add the coconut elements – some unsweetened plain coconut milk, and then some canned coconut milk with the layer of coconut cream on the top.

“Which is going to add some creamy deliciousness to our soup.“

“And that’s going to melt in…”

Then add the other ingredients, including powdered curry, a chopped onion, and our cubed pumpkin.

Let it simmer for about 25 minutes, checking the pumpkin for softness.

Remove it from the heat, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the cooking pot. If you use a regular blender, be very careful not to splatter the hot liquid.

“Just get it nice and smooth.”

Now it’s ready to serve. Pohley likes to put some cooked wheat berries in the bottom of the bowl.

“Nutty, crunchy texture, lots of fiber in wheat berries. I just really love the flavor of them, too. And I think they give something unexpected at the bottom of the soup.”

We just ladle our soup right on top. Beautiful, yellow color, all that beta carotene, all that nutritious deliciousness.”

For some Halloween fun, Pohley garnishes the soup with a spider web made of pesto sauce. And since we’re at BUGS, there’s even a spider made of sliced almonds and cashews.

So here we have pumpkin coconut curry soup, and this will be really healthy and fun on a Halloween evening. This would be amazing. It would give the kids something warm and nourishing in their bellies and something that’s healthy before they go out and get all that candy. Overdose on the candy, that’s right. 

Along with the recipe for the pumpkin coconut curry soup, we’ve also posted instructions for making the pesto, the cashew spider, and for roasting the pumpkin seeds for an additional fall treat.


1 medium (2-3 pounds) sugar pie pumpkin, cubed
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
½ cup unsweetened plain coconut milk (the refrigerated kind)
1 can coconut milk
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1-2 teaspoon curry powder (to taste)
Salt to taste
1. To cube pumpkin: First microwave pumpkin for 3 minute so flesh is easier to cut. Next, cut in half and scoop out seeds (save seeds to roast) and stringy flesh with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Peel the pumpkin and cut into cubes.
2. Heat vegetable stock, coconut milks, pepper, ginger, garlic and curry powder in a medium stock pot. Whisk to combine.
3. Add onion and pumpkin cubes and cook over medium heat until softened, about 25 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
5. Optional: Ladle hot soup over ½ c. Of cooked whole grain (such as wheat berries, farro or wild rice) for a nutty crunch and texture.

Optional plant-based pesto garnish: 3 c. Basil leaves, ½ c. Almonds, 1 clove garlic, ½ c. Vegetable broth, juice from 1 small lemon, salt/pepper to taste, 1/3 c. Olive oil. Combine all ingredients (except olive oil) in a food processor. Process until smooth. With processor running, drizzle olive oil in. For a spooky Halloween treat, thin pesto with water (if needed), add to a squeeze bottle, squeeze pesto into a spider web shape on the surface of the soup. To form a spider on the web, use one whole almond as the body, and 8 half cashews as legs!


Ingredients: 1 ½ -2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed of flesh and pulp, and patted dry 1 Tbsp. Olive oil 1/8 tsp. Black pepper ½ tsp salt Flavor add-ins, choose 1: ¼ tsp. Garlic powder ½ tsp. Taco seasoning ½ tsp. Powdered ranch dressing mix ½ tsp. Italian seasoning Method: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 2. Toss seeds with olive oil, pepper and salt plus any optional flavor add-ins. 3. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. 4. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Check and stir after 8 minutes for even cooking.

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