So many of the pumpkin dishes we like to eat during this time of year are sweet—lattes, cookies, muffins, bread, cakes. Pumpkin is naturally awesome in sweet dishes. But I think pumpkin deserves a place on your dinner plate, too. Pumpkin is a great way to add a little bit of sweetness, heartiness, and autumn flavor to your favorite savory dishes.
During Pumpkin Week this year (you can see all my pumpkin recipes on this page, and make sure to check out my friend Melissa from Bless This Mess, who is also joining in on the pumpkin fun this week), I’ll be sharing both sweet and savory ways to use pumpkin—and the first savory way is in this creamy, comforting Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa Chowder.
I’m not sure I can put into words how obsessed I am with this soup. From a health standpoint, it doesn’t get much better for you than a bowl of this pumpkin quinoa chowder. It’s packed with lean protein thanks to the chicken and quinoa. It’s loaded with healthy fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A big bunch of fresh spinach adds beautiful color and a ton of nutrition. This chowder is the perfect picture of what eating healthy in the Fall should look like.
From a taste standpoint, oh my gosh, it’s hearty and creamy and oh-so-comforting. Just like my White Chicken Chili, this chowder’s broth is made using a whole chicken. It really is the best way to make sure you have an incredibly rich soup base. It sounds complicated and time-consuming to boil a whole chicken just for soup, but the time spent is mostly hands-off, and I promise, it’s worth it. Make this soup on a weekend when it’s cold and rainy and the leaves are tumbling down and you don’t have anywhere to go or anything to do and you’re staying in your yoga pants all day. Trust me. Do it.
For a fun contrast of color, I used tri-color quinoa (I always buy Bob’s Red Mill brand), but you can use either all white or all red quinoa if that’s what you have kicking around. I haven’t found much of a difference in flavor between the different colors of quinoa—but it’s fun to mix up the color sometimes!
If you are having a hard time tracking down a pie pumpkin, you can sub in whatever squash you can find—a butternut squash would be perfect. In fact, the flesh of butternut squash are much more orange than pumpkin. If you want to see truly bright orange chunks of squash in your soup, go with butternut!
I’ve never met a bowl of soup that can’t be improved by a big hunk of bread (even this awesome quinoa chowder), so I served this soup with a pan of my Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread from my first cookbook. Perfect. Fall. Dinner. Enjoy! I’ll be back tomorrow with the third recipe in Pumpkin Week 2016—we’re headed to the breakfast table next!
Pumpkin isn’t just for sweet recipes! This savory Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa Chowder is hearty, creamy, and oh-so-comforting.
- 1 whole chicken
- 12 cups water
- 1 medium pie pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup quinoa
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- Place the chicken in a large Dutch oven or soup pot, cover with water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
- Remove chicken from the water, and let cool to touch. Once cool, remove meat from the bones and shred.
- Meanwhile, add the pumpkin, onion, quinoa, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and sage to the stockpot and bring back to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 20 -25 minutes.
- Add the chicken, spinach, half and half, and pumpkin puree to the soup, simmering until everything is heated through, about 5 -7 minutes.