• Butternut pumpkin and quinoa soup (John Bek)Source: John Bek

I could eat pumpkin soup at any time of the year. To make it more of a substantial meal, I served it with a garnish of quinoa spiced with za'atar, sumac and chilli. 






Skill level

No votes yet

The quinoa gives the soup texture and an added warmth from the Middle Eastern spices. If you have leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge, it's a great way to use it up.


  • 2 kg butternut pumpkin, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 1 onion (unpeeled)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt and black pepper, to season
  • 1.25 litres vegetable stock
  • crusty bread, to serve

Spiced quinoa

  • ¾ cup red quinoa
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley 
  • ⅓ cup za'atar
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, to season

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time 10 minutes

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the pumpkin halves cut-side up on a baking tray. Place the whole unpeeled onion on the tray as well. Place a garlic clove in each pumpkin cavity, then drizzle with the olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Scatter over the ground cumin and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hour or until the pumpkin is cooked through, but not browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

You can make the spiced quinoa while the pumpkin is in the oven. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil over high heat. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool under running cold water. Drain well. Place the cooked quinoa in a bowl with the parsley, za'atar, sumac, chilli flakes and extra virgin olive oil. Mix well, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside while you finish the soup.

Pour any liquid that has gathered in the pumpkin cavities and the garlic cloves in a large saucepan. Scoop the pumpkin flesh into the saucepan and discard the skin. Remove the skin from the cooked onion and add the flesh to the saucepan. Pour over the vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until slightly reduced, then remove from the heat.

Using a stick blender, purée the soup until smooth, then season with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with as much of the spiced quinoa as you like. Serve with crusty bread.


Recipe from heneedsfood by John Bek, with photographs by John Bek.

This recipe is featured as part of our online column, Blog Appétit: heneedsfood. View more recipes from this column.

Blog Appétit is our curated list of go-to food blogs we love, with a focus on high-quality photography, trusted recipes, strong editorial themes and a unique voice and personality. View previous Blog Appétit entries.