Antioxidant-Rich Pumpkins, Superfood Symbol of Autumn

Pumpkins are the gourd that most symbolize Autumn

Winter squash are some of the oldest known vegetables in America. Among these hearty winter vegetables, pumpkins have become symbolic of the season and go hand-in-hand with Halloween and then again Thanksgiving.

Pumpkins are a delicious fruit to include in the diet and have a characteristic orange rind with orange flesh that is incredibly rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Very nutritious, pumpkin is low in calories and an excellent source of vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants such as lutein, xanthin and carotenes.

Pumpkins are a nutrient-rich food, especially beneficial for health and well-being and that alone qualifies this delicious gourd as a ‘Superfood.’ Just one cup of cooked pumpkin contains only 49 calories and a whopping 12,231 IUs of  Vitamin A – 245 percent of the Daily Value! 1 Vitamin A is also important for healthy teeth, bones and soft tissue, mucus membranes and skin and promotes good vision, especially in low light.2

We have come a long way from the days when pumpkin pie was the only pumpkin item on the Holiday buffet. These days it is not unusual to find pumpkin bread, salads, salsas and soups.

Great Pumpkin Soup is hearty and satisfying.  This tasty soup can also be quick to the table, if you utilize canned pumpkin, a convenient alternative to the peeling, cubing and baking associated with the raw gourd.

Rich-tasting Great Pumpkin Soup is easy to make  and an appealing addition to the fall menu. This soup features my signature ‘miso finish.’ I often finish my soups with an enriching miso paste, choosing light and flavorful varieties like my go-to Mellow White Miso. This adds flavor and character to the soup as well as valuable health supporting enzymes.

Great Pumpkin Soup
8 Servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons grated fresh gingerroot
1 stalk celery with the leaves, chopped
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced (4 cups)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, boiling
1 (29 ounce can) pumpkin puree
1 (14 1/2 ounce can) Mexican stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup soymilk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/3 cup mellow white miso
1/4 cup dry vermouth (or vegetable broth)

Heat oil and crushed pepper in a 6-quart saucepan, over medium high heat 1 minute.  Add onion, gingerroot and celery. Sauté mixture 3 minutes. Add potatoes and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally or until potatoes begin to soften.  Add boiling broth and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook mixture 10 minutes. Add pumpkin puree and Mexican tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Pulse soup in a food processor or blender in batches several cups at a time, adding the soymilk and nutritional yeast to the first batch. Return puree to the soup pot and add sage, lemon pepper and nutmeg.  Place miso in a small bowl and “cream” with the vermouth. Add to the pot and simmer gently 10 minutes until ready to serve. Do not boil as that will kill the valuable enzymes.

Great Pumpkin Soup
Nutrition Analysis: per 2 cup serving
Calories 194, Protein 9g, Carbohydrates 36g, Fiber 7g, Fat 2g, Cholesterol 0, Calcium 90mg, Sodium: 303 mg.

1 Tanumihardjo SA (2011). “Vitamin A: biomarkers of nutrition for development”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 94 (2): 658S–665S.

2 MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine, US National Institutes of Health. December 2, 2016

Marie Oser is a best-selling author, writer/producer and host of VegTV. Her latest book is The Skinny on Soy.  Follow Marie on Facebook and Twitter