Curried Pumpkin Soup with Tamarind Onions

Punchy flavors borrowed from Sri Lankan-style curries make this curried pumpkin soup a palate-awakening starter. The tamarind onion garnish, adapted from Chef Sam Fore in Lexington, Kentucky, is a showstopping condiment. If you have any left over, they'll make your next-day turkey sandwiches sing!

a recipe photo of the Sri Lankan Curried Pumpkin Soup served in a bowl
Photo: Ali Redmond
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
50 mins


Curry Powder

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds (from about 4 green pods)

  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder, preferably roasted

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric


  • ¼ cup coconut oil

  • 20 fresh curry leaves

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 small serrano pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

  • 1 (28 ounce) can unseasoned pumpkin puree

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

  • 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice-wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons dark amber agave syrup

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • ½ cup chopped unsalted cashews, toasted (see Tip)

Tamarind Onions

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (see Tip)

  • ½ teaspoon light brown sugar


  1. To prepare curry powder: Toast coriander seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom seeds and peppercorns in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until the mustard seeds pop and the mixture smells fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool slightly, 5 minutes. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the toasted spices into a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl; mix in paprika, cumin and turmeric. Set aside.

  2. To prepare soup: Heat 1/4 cup coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add curry leaves; cook, stirring, until they become fragrant and darken, 20 to 30 seconds. Add chopped onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and beginning to color on the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in serrano, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly, until lightly golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the curry powder and stir well; cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are bloomed and fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in pumpkin and gradually pour in stock, stirring well to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring often, until slightly thickened and flavors have melded, 15 to 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare onions: Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to brown on the edges, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and crushed red pepper, if using. Remove from heat. Add tamarind paste and brown sugar; stir until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.

  4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. (Use caution when blending hot liquids.) Stir in vinegar, agave and 2 teaspoons salt. Top with the onions and cashews.


For the best flavor, toast nuts before using in a recipe. To toast chopped nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes.

Sticky, sour tamarind paste, or concentrate, is made from the pulp of seedy tamarind tree pods. It's one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce and a key flavor in many Southeast Asian curries as well as pad thai. Typically sold in a jar, it keeps indefinitely in your fridge.

To make ahead

Refrigerate soup (Steps 1-2) for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

157 Calories
10g Fat
15g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 157
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 3g 6%
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Vitamin A 10906IU 218%
Vitamin C 6mg 7%
Vitamin E 1mg 4%
Folate 19mcg 5%
Vitamin K 14mcg 12%
Sodium 452mg 20%
Calcium 56mg 4%
Iron 2mg 11%
Magnesium 39mg 9%
Potassium 211mg 4%
Zinc 1mg 9%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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