Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seed- Mint Pesto

Cover recipe- Sunset, Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seed- Mint Pesto: October 2011

I love Sunset Magazine.  I love that it’s full of travel stories and places I feel I must visit soon.  I tear out pages and keep them in my “vacation” folder for times that my husband and I are looking for somewhere new to visit.  The recipes in the magazine are almost always winners.  Sometimes they’re recipes featured from places traveled, and sometimes they’re just features based on the season.

This month’s cover of Sunset Magazine- Living in the West is beautiful.  There’s no doubt about that.  It displays a pumpkin soup in miniature roasted pumpkins, with earthy fall dinnerware to boot.  It’s perfect for October.  The cover is highlighting Tasty Fall Soups & Stews- Recipes to Warm Up Your Weeknights.

There’s a lot more to the recipes in the food section of the magazine this month than just soups and stews. There are also quick & easy dinners, a few Moroccan recipes and a fall salad.  The cover recipe actually comes from a feature on cooking with pumpkin called, “Beyond the Pie.”  There is Cashew, Coconut and Pumpkin Curry, Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream, Caramelized Orange Pumpkin Flan, and then there is this soup: Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seed Mint Pesto.  Read my tips below to see what I thought of this cover recipe…

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Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seed Mint Pesto

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 1 hour


1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 1/2 cups peeled, 1-inch chunks pumpkin or other orange fleshed squash (from a 2 1/2-pound squash)
4 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 small garlic clove
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, plus slivered leaves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds


1. Make soup: Saute onion and ginger in oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until golden, 5 minutes. Add garlic and coriander and cook until softened, 1 minutes, then add pumpkin, broth, salt, and pepper. Simmer, covered, until pumpkin is very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Puree in batches in a blender until very smooth.
2. Make pesto: Pound garlic, whole mint leaves, salt, and 1 tablespoon oil in a mortar into a coarse paste (or use a food processor). Add remaining oil and pumpkin seeds and pound until coarsely crushed.
3. Drop small spoonfuls of pesto over bowls of soup, garnish with slivered mint, and serve remaining pesto on the side.

To make mini pumpkin bowls (6): Cut a thin slice from the bases of 6 mini pumpkin so they sit flat. Set on a rimmed baking sheet, rub with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a 400 degree F. oven until tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Cut off 2-inch-wide lids. Carefully scrape out seeds with a small spoon. (If you get a hole, line pumpkin with a piece of foil.)


*I used pie pumpkins for this recipe.
*I'm not sure coriander was the right spice for this soup.  Maybe curry would have worked better?
*The soup didn't stay bright orange as the magazine photo indicates- it turned a rather unappetizing orangish-brownish color, and it really was void of any flavor.  I was hoping the pesto would save it.
*Making the pesto: If you don't have a mortar & pestle or a mini food processor, this pesto is impossible to make.  It's too little of a batch for a regular-sized processor.
*The pesto calls for roasted and salted pumpkin seeds.  I would think they are talking about pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) but the recipe does not indicate pepitas.  To me, pumpkin seeds are the seeds that come directly out of the pumpkin.  This was confusing.
*The pesto couldn't save the soup either.  Mint was an odd choice to pair with the flavors in this soup (what flavors there were), and it just tasted awful to me.
*Regarding making the pumpkin bowls in the oven- kind of a silly question, but why does the recipe call for making 6 pumpkin bowls when the recipe says that it only serves 4 or 5?  My pumpkin was tender and ready to cut into a bowl at about 25 minutes.  If I had let it go the full 40 minutes, it would have been brown and mushy.

Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
Calories per serving: 263
Fat per serving: 21g
Saturated Fat per serving: 3.4g
Sodium per serving: ,span class="sodium">406g
Fiber per serving: 2.6g
Protein per serving: 8.3g
Cholesterol per serving: 23mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 13g

Source: Sunset, October 2011

The results:

It’s rare that I dislike a recipe so much- especially one that is a cover spotlighted recipe- but this soup was “inedible.”  A few bites, and a few attempts to doctor it up with more salt, pepper, spices and then it was dumped in the trash.  What a waste of perfectly good ingredients. There’s a good review on the original recipe though, so perhaps it’s a matter of taste!

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

Absolutely not- for all of the reasons mentioned above.  A cover recipe should be something to celebrate and something super flavorful and wonderful to eat- not just a pretty picture.  The cover recipe should have been the amazing-looking Brandied Cranberry Short-Rib Stew tucked into their Stews and Brews section.  I’m dying to try that one, but perhaps that’s just a pretty picture too.  I’m hoping not…

Lori is the founder of RecipeGirl.com. She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at RecipeBoy.com.

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6 Responses to “Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seed- Mint Pesto”

  1. 1

    Kori Clark — October 16, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

    Thank you for this honest review. You saved me from making a huge batch of this soup! I look forward to hearing more of your opinions!

    • Lori Lange replied: — October 21st, 2011 @ 7:01 am

      Somebody had to test it out! Bummer that it wasn’t any good.

  2. 2

    Juls — October 22, 2011 @ 1:56 am

    As much as it is a bummer it didn’t taste as good as it seemed to promise, I’m glad you gave actual instructions how to hollow out pumpkins for serving – whenever I try, I end up breaking it or I over-cook them and then they turn into more holey-wraps than bowls!

  3. 3

    Carolyn — October 22, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    Ohhh WOW. It “LOOKS” so good–and its wonderful having honest opinions. I hope the other recipes in the mag turn out better!


  4. 4

    Wally — October 25, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    After reading your review I was worried… I didn’t want to make a bland yucky soup, but I had been so inspired by the beautiful picture on the cover of the magazine and had bought all these pumpkins! So, I researched other pumpkin recipes online to find out what made a yummy pumpkin soup and made adjustments. I double the amount of fresh ginger it called for. I substituted 2 Tbls of curry powder for the corriander (which if you don’t like spice both of those changes probably won’t be your favorite). And I added a cup of light coconut milk (since other recipes seemed to say that a whole can was too coconutty.)

    And I kid you not it may have been one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten. I seriously don’t know how it turned out so amazing. But there you go. Just passing along the info. I definitely will be making this again. I made to-go containers for friends and they all loved it!!

    • Lori Lange replied: — October 25th, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

      Sounds like you created a new recipe! Yours sounds much better…

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