While I absolutely adore pumpkin, I'm pretty ambivalent about pumpkin spices. I concede that in certain applications and in reasonable amounts they enhance pumpkin flavors, but I find them very potpourri-ish on their own and I get sick of them pretty quickly when they are called for in every pumpkin recipe.

So let's share our favorite pumpkin recipes that do not use pumpkin spices in abundance, or even at all.

First of all, not to get all Ina Garten-y on you, but it really is so easy to roast and blend your own pumpkin puree, and it is so much tastier than canned. And, in fact, canned pumpkin puree isn't even always actually pumpkin. I think sometimes it's a blend of other squash vegetables.

You want to use smaller sugar pumpkins rather than the big pumpkins you'd use for carving Jack O'Lanterns. Rinse the outside to clean off any dirt, then quarter the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds and guts (reserve this to separate and rinse the seeds for roasting later). Rub the flesh with butter or olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. You can cover it with foil to keep the pumpkin moist but you'll be fine if you just put the oven rack on the lowest rung and roast for about 60-90 minutes at 375. This time is approximate. It really depends on your pumpkin. Once it's fork-tender at the thickest part, you're done. Let the pumpkin cool and then scoop the flesh out of the rind. Hit it with your food processor or blender and voila. A blank canvas of pumpkin puree. It freezes pretty well if you aren't using it right away.

Roasted Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup with Thai Roasted Red Chilis

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red peppers
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • roasted red chili paste (I used a brand called Thai Kitchen, located in the international aisle at the grocery store)
  • 6 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • about 3 cups pumpkin (approximately 30 oz if you're using canned)
  • Sriracha (to taste)

Advertisement

1 - Dice onion, peppers, and garlic. Heat olive oil in soup pot and cook on medium heat until soft.

2 - Add lentils. Stir to incorporate into veggies and coat with olive oil. Add 3 of the 6 cups of stock along with 2-3 tablespoons of roasted red chili paste. Stir well to dissolve paste. Cover and bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for about ten minutes, until lentils are soft.

Advertisement

3 - Add pumpkin, remaining stock, and Sriracha to taste (remember you can always add more so err on the side of caution, start with like a teaspoon). Stir well to incorporate into lentil mixture. Simmer another 20-30 minutes.

4 - (Optional) If you have an immersion blender, you may want to blend the soup at this point. It's fine if you don't, just make sure you dice the veggies pretty uniformly. If you plan to blend, you can rough chop them. The lentils break down pretty well on their own.

Advertisement

5 - Taste the soup for flavor. I prefer things on the less-salty side but you may want to add more salt, roasted red chili paste, or Sriracha, depending on your preference. I did add a half teaspoon of smoked sea salt and it was pretty delicious.

This recipe makes a big batch of soup, there should be plenty for leftovers and it freezes really well. It's delicious with a hunk of nutty, seedy bread.

Advertisement

I plan to use this recipe for honey Sriracha roasted pumpkin seeds with the seeds I got from my soup pumpkin. One thing the recipe doesn't mention but that I find is important, is to let your seeds dry overnight before roasting them. So, you rinse them free of the pumpkin guts then lay them out in a single layer on a tea towel to dry.

Please add your own non-pumpkin spice-centric pumpkin recipes and also roasted pumpkin seed recipes!