Chicken Quinoa Pumpkin Chowder
Chicken Quinoa Pumpkin Chowder

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.

Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa Chowder

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.

Chicken Quinoa Pumpkin Chowder

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!

Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa Chowder

Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa Chowder

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

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


  1. 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.
  2. Remove chicken from the water, and let cool to touch. Once cool, remove meat from the bones and shred.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the chicken, spinach, half and half, and pumpkin puree to the soup, simmering until everything is heated through, about 5 -7 minutes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 339Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 235mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 26g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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  1. HEY Y’ALL Grandma here – my niece would go “yewh!” to this, BUT: to have the chicken cooked in less time and use less water covering it during cooking, thereby NOT DILUTING your chowder, THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE: cut up your whole chicken! The water doesn’t circulate around, especially inside a whole bird as fast, slows the cooking down. It only takes a couple minutes, and y’all should be cleaning that bird anyway!
    Cleaning a whole chicken: not all butchers are equal, so check your bird. During and since COVID 19, I have seen a slew of poorly butchered birds. Using a sharp paring knife, scrape over the skin looking for pin feather bits and loose yellow skin, rinsing the bird as needed. Pin feathers taste YUCK if cooked. (I find them mostly on ends of drumsticks and under the wings, LOL, wing tips) Rinse the inside bird and remove (pinch out) those little glands (if butcher didn’t) that look like little cream colored jelly belly jellybeans – those will taste bitter. All this should take not more than minutes to do.
    Cutting a whole chicken, easy peasy: take kitchen shears, cleaver or very sharp boning knife and cut along left or right side of the spine from top to bottom. Use your fingers to poke and find your way around the big bones before starting to cut, then cut through the small ones with the shears. [now you can see the bird’s “poop shoot” and clean it out by pushing a fingertip down it’s length, rinsing the area afterwards. No, the butchers don’t do it for you.]
    Open chicken up and lay out flat as much as possible. Leg quarters become obvious, cut where they flop, narrower zones – these will disjoint from the torso with a twist, so a quick cut is all you need to remove them. You can leave breast spread and in the bottom of the pot, or lean your weight fully on the breast bone with your palms flat and together, to crack and flatten the bone, then cut as you need to for size of your pot. Now the bird sits in the pot at half the height is was = less water to cover! Deboning the meat will be easier as lifting a whole bird from scalding water is tricky.
    I tell my niece, who won’t touch raw meat and will never be a vegan: if you’re going to eat an animal, show respect for it by preparing it right. And wash your hands often.