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. I love this delicious Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa Chowder, seems amazing . Thanks for sharing this recipe with us, will love to try this one. Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Hi, Michele! You could definitely make this in an Instant Pot—although we’ve never tried it, so you’ll have to experiment on the cooking times. Let us know how it turns out if you try it!

  2. I cheated to save time and used chicken broth and a rotisserie chicken. No pumpkins around so I used cubed butternut squash and the canned pumpkin. It turned out great but made a giant pot of it. I have to recalculate the calories now. I’m not sure where I went wrong. Instead of the 12 cups of water I used 8 cups of broth in my biggest stock pot and by the time I added everything else in it was crazy full.

  3. I made this last week and the white chicken chili this week. Both were incredibly delicious. Today my 4- and 6-year olds separately asked if there was any left that they could have. Now that’s a telling sign of how good this was!

  4. This is fabulous!! My whole family loved it, and my children have requested me to make it again already. I used pre-chopped butternut squash from Costco rather than the pumpkin chunks, but that’s the only change I made. I cooked it in my 13 1/4 quart Dutch oven. The water didn’t quite cover the chicken all the way, but with the lid on the chicken cooked beautifully. I think next time I would either use a little less water or add more quinoa. It was a tiny bit more liquidy than “chowder-y,” but still fabulous. Soooo homey and comforting, and I love how super nutritious it is. I love that you’re essentially making the stock for the chowder by cooking the whole chicken; there’s nothing better than homemade stock. I also used sprouted quinoa, so that may be why it didn’t absorb as much of the stock. My experience has been that sprouted foods don’t absorb as much water or need as much water to cook. I also appreciate that it makes a vast quantity, and it’s even better as leftovers. We made multiple meals off of it, and I still froze a quart. Thanks for a keeper recipe!

  5. This looks incredible! I’m thinking of using chicken breasts and adapting it to be crock-potted;) Butternut squash sounds just as yummy as the pumpkin!

  6. This. Is. Amazing!! My son gobbled it all up, and so did I. Just absolutely scrumptious. I adapted the recipe some … I used boneless skinless chicken breasts because I just don’t like dealing with whole boned poultry. I added a large carton of chicken broth plus around 4 cups of water. I precooked the quinoa in my Instant Pot, so the soup itself didn’t need as much liquid; then I added everything else into the pot with it. I also caramelized the onions first because it’s the only way I can eat onions 🙂 … and I omitted the pumpkin chunks and sub’d butternut squash puree for the pumpkin puree. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!!

  7. After the chicken is cooked I’d take it from the pot, then put the pot into the frig overnight so I could scrape off a lot of the solidified chicken fat, then I’d reheat the liquid, and continue with the recipe.