A deliciously savory dish, this Chinese Pumpkin Soup with carrots is also very nutritious and really easy to make in a few simple steps! (Basically, cut + steam!) No blender or cream needed!
Why Make This
- Chinese Pumpkin Soup is deliciously savory: full of umami from the dried scallops and kelp and naturally sweet from the jujubes and carrots (no refined sugar added!) It's a great way to use up extra Thanksgiving pumpkins, but it's so easy and tasty, I'm sure you'll make it year round!
- And healthy: unlike most pumpkin soups, there is no cream added so it's good for your heart and your waistline!
- Simple to make too: you simply mix the ingredients then steam them for 1 hour!
Some of the simple ingredients you will need are:
- Pumpkin: If you can get small ones, they make great serving bowls for the soup but make sure you don't steam them for too long or they'll break and all the soup will leak out! If you only have regular, large pumpkin, just steam the pumpkin cubes and other ingredients in a large heat-proof bowl. If you have too much, you can use them in this pumpkin congee or these Asian pumpkin dishes.
- Dried Scallops: Get Japanese Hokkaido dried scallops, or conpoy, if you can as they're of higher quality. If you can't get them, here are some good dried scallop alternatives.
- Dried seaweed (Kelp/ Kombu): if you can't get this, you can use more dried scallops or substitute with some fish sauce. Both add the same umami to the Chinese pumpkin soup.
- Jujubes: added for natural sweetness. Remove the seed before steaming to make them less heaty. For more ways to use up these Chinese red dates, click here.
For a full list of ingredients, please check out the recipe card!
- Pumpkin and corn soup: I don't add corn as it's too big to fit into a small pumpkin, which I use as a serving bowl for the bowl. However, many Chinese soups use corn for its natural sweetness.
- Pumpkin pork soup: You can use pork stock instead of chicken- or add blanched pork ribs to steam with the other ingredients- but I find chicken stock gives a "cleaner" taste that goes better with seafood (if using, see below.) If steaming pork ribs with the other ingredients, increase the cooking time to 2-3 hours to extract all the flavor from the bones.
- Pumpkin seafood soup: You can add seafood such as prawns, fresh scallops or crab to this soup. (This is how it is served at Summer Palace, a Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in Regent Hotel, Singapore.) If adding the fresh seafood, to make sure they are not overcooked, either:
- add them to the soup for just the amount of time they require to be poached (which will change depending on the size and type of seafood i.e. prawns and crab will be added at different points of time)
- OR cook the seafood separately, then add them to the bowl of soup right before serving.
- Briefly rinse the dried scallops then soak in hot water for at least 30 minutes to soften them.
Tip: Do not try to scrub off all the white "powder" on the surface of the dried scallops! They contain lots of flavor.
2. Slice off the top of the pumpkin.
Tip: If this is a small pumpkin and you are going to use it as a bowl for the soup, make sure to slice near the top (so the bowl is nice and deep.) Keep the top to cover the "bowl" later.
4. Use a melon baller or an ice cream scoop (or just a regular spoon) to scoop out the pumpkin flesh and seeds.
Separate the flesh from the seeds- you can regrow the seeds or roast them. The flesh will be added to the Chinese soup.
Cut the carrots and jujubes.
5. Combine 1 Cup of cut pumpkin (the flesh of 2 small pumpkins), 2 cut carrots, 3 cut jujubes, 4 1-inch by 1 inch pieces of dried kelp, ½ Tablespoon of shaoxing wine, 3 Cups of chicken stock, ¼ teaspoon of salt (if the chicken stock is unseasoned) and the 6 dried scallops (along with the soaking water.)
Steam for 1 hour. Season to taste, then serve.
Tip #1: If your pumpkin is bitter, don't eat it! Pumpkins, squashes and gourds are cucurbits and may contain cucurbitacin. This is a toxic, bitter tasting compound which may lead to food poisoning and hair loss. (It's bred out of domestic pumpkins but may be reintroduced by cross-pollinations with wild pumpkins due to insects.)
Tip #2: If you don't want the pumpkin to dissolve into the soup, only add it for the last 20 minutes of steaming. (If not, it becomes very soft and makes your clear soup a little murky.) Alternatively, if you want to add the pumpkin from the start, leave the skin on to hold it together- if steamed long enough, the pumpkin skin becomes soft and can be eaten.
Tip #3: If using a small hollowed-out pumpkin to serve the soup, steam it very briefly for 5-15 minutes (depending on how thick the wall of the pumpkin is) so that the flesh is cooked but remains sturdy i.e. it doesn't become too soft to contain the soup. To serve, ladle the ingredients first before topping up with the liquid soup.
Pumpkins contain lots of anti-oxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These may help to reduce free radical cell damage, protect the skin from the sun and lower the risk of cancer. It also has well-documented anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
If you are lucky enough to get a pumpkin with leaves, yes they're edible, cooked and raw. In fact, they're often eaten in Korean cuisine.
If your pumpkin is huge and you have too much, you can freeze it cooked, raw or in puree form for 2-3 months.
Other Chinese Recipes
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Chinese Pumpkin Soup with Carrots
- Melon baller or ice-cream scoop Substitute: spoon
- Knife and cutting board
- Large bowl that is heat-proof
- 6 dried scallops Rinsed then soaked for 30 minutes in hot water. Do not try to scrub off all the white "powder" on the surface of the dried scallops! They contain lots of flavor.
- 2 small pumpkins Yields about 1 Cup of pumpkin flesh
- 2 carrots Peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 4 jujubes deseeded and cut into quarters
- 4 pieces 1 inch by 1 inch dried kelp Don't wash off the white powder as it is the natural umami of the seaweed! Simply use a damp cloth to remove any dirt.
- 3 Cups Chicken stock Substitute: pork stock.
- ½ Tablespoon Shaoxing wine Substitute: sake
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Slice the top of the pumpkin. Make sure you slice at the top if using the pumpkin as a bowl (see Notes.)
- Use a melon baller or an ice cream scoop (or just a regular spoon) to scoop out the pumpkin flesh and seeds.Separate the flesh from the seeds- you can regrow the seeds or roast them. The flesh will be added to the Chinese soup.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl that can go into the steamer and steam for 1 hour.
- Season to taste, then serve.
If you've enjoyed this pumpkin soup without cream and blender recipe, I'd be super grateful if you shared it on your social media accounts! Thank you!