Recipe Rehab: Super Pumpkin Soup

Our weekly feature, Recipe Rehab, takes a recipe — sometimes basic, sometimes decadent and sometimes just plain unhealthy — and turns it into a scrumptious and healthy dish, pumped up with nutrition. Sometimes all it takes is a few alterations to cook a dish that would make even your nutritionist proud.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this pumpkin soup recipe on WebMD, touted as a healthy one. It looks it now, thanks to the Rehab, but the original recipe calls for lots of low fat dairy (milk, cheese and sour cream) that you simply don’t need to have a delicious pumpkin soup. I know the dairy industry will have you believe that it is a good healthy choice, but unless you are eating moderate amounts of organic (or even better, raw), whole milk yogurt, I just don’t agree. So put those leftover pumpkins on your stoop to good use!


  • 3 cups mashed potatoes, organic, made with organic chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew cream (see Rehab Rundown)
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pepper to taste
  • Sea salt or kelp powder to taste (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons organic, whole milk, plain yogurt
  • goat cheese crumbles, optional

1. Prepare mashed potatoes. Add the pumpkin and cashew cream to a medium saucepan; whisk to blend well.
2. Add pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon and stir to combine. Cover pan and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add pepper and salt, if desired.
3. Spoon into five serving bowls, then swirl a tablespoon of organic, whole milk, plain yogurt in each bowl of soup. If desired, sprinkle a bit of goat cheese crumbles onto each serving as well.

5 servings

Rehab Rundown

Potatoes are on the produce you should buy organic list, due to heavy pesticide retention. Organic potatoes are readily available at most supermarkets, so bite the bullet and pay the minimal extra bucks for something you can feel confident in eating.

What is pumpkin pie spice, anyway? You don’t need to run out to the store to get a special ingredient. Check out some homemade recipes for pumpkin pie spice that are easily made in a matter of seconds with pantry classics, like nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.
Cashew cream is so, so simple and absolutely delicious. Just put 1 c. cashews and 1/2 c. water in a food processor, blender or Vitamix. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more water or cashews until you get the consistency you like.

Using kelp powder instead of plain salt adds trace minerals, like calcium and potassium, and elements, like iodine and iron.

Using unrefined sea salt supplies vital minerals.

If you insist on adding some kind of cheese, your best bet is a goat cheese, which is easier to digest than cow cheese and has a lot of health benefits, such as a high calcium content, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and protein.

Rehab Reveal

Don’t forget, for every substitution, you not only get the benefits of the new ingredient, but also the benefits of not having the original ingredient that is unhealthy. It’s a win-win, folks.

Using yogurt instead of cream, as the original recipes calls for, adds probiotics, makes the dish more digestible and raises the absorption of calcium. Nutrition facts say that it adds calcium, protein and vitamins A, and C and iron to the recipe.

Cashew cream adds protein, calcium, iron and fiber.

Rehab Roundup

Kelp powder is most easily purchased at a food co-op, health food/vitamin store, online or in the health food section of a large chain grocery store. Prices vary greatly.

My favorite unrefined sea salt is Orsa Pink Mineral Salt.

Everything else this week is widely available at any supermarket — it’s about time, eh?

So enjoy your nearly dairy-free pumpkin soup — seasonal and full of beta carotene, minerals and fiber.