Easy Vegan Pumpkin Soup With Cilantro Pesto

Easy Vegan Pumpkin Soup With Cilantro Pesto

Come September, I get a little bit overzealous with my purchase of canned pumpkin. I buy six to eight at a time, you know, just in case there’s a shortage. Hint: there is ALWAYS enough pumpkin. After three or four batches of pumpkin bread, muffins, or pancakes; I start to want something on the savory side. This is where my easy pantry pumpkin soup comes into play. I love pumpkin desserts as much as the next person, but it is pretty easy to get sick of it.

Before the pandemic, I never really “shopped” my pantry. I usually plan my meals, purchase the ingredients for them, and not have much leftover. That routine all changed when the grocery shelves were barren and I had to buy whatever was available. It was a blessing in disguise because it sparked my creativity with our every day meals. So when I was looking at my pantry filled with pumpkin, I knew I could make something delicious out of it. Not only is this easy soup made with basic kitchen and pantry staples, but the cilantro pesto uses discarded cilantro stems to turn your trash into treasure.

Why this pumpkin soup?

Butternut squash soup is a staple in my home during the fall. I am NOT a fan of cutting up butternut squash, however, when I buy the pre cubed squash it always seems to be mushy and weird. No thank you. I needed a short cut and I thought to myself: “pumpkin is a squash… hey wait… I have ten thousand cans of pumpkin in the cupboard…”.

This soup needed to be special and not just taste like, well, pumpkin. Also, I wanted to keep it vegan (though this is not completely necessary). Enter the cilantro stem pesto. Genius! I don’t know if you have ever stirred pesto into a soup, but I highly recommend it. The fact that this pesto is made with something you would normally throw away makes it all that much better!

The rest of this easy soup is made with pantry and refrigerator staples, but this is no humble soup. This is company worthy soup (after it is safe to do so), that takes 30 minutes to make. Pair it with a side salad or some crusty bread, and you have a delicious meal on table in no time at all.

Let’s Talk Ingredients

Pumpkin: you can use any type of canned pumpkin here, but make sure you are not using pumpkin pie mix. I have tested this recipe with canned butternut squash and sweet potato and it is equally delicious. Use what you have!

Spices: I really enjoy a little kick with sweet squash. Here I have used red pepper flake, chili powder, and sumac. The sumac is not necessary but it does add a little something special to the soup.

Sumac: this is not a super common spice, but it is worth seeking out if you don’t have it. It has a slightly sharp citrus flavor and helps brighten this dish. Sumac is deep red and looks beautiful dusted on top of the soup. The soup will still be delicious without it.

Cilantro: the pesto is made with cilantro stems and leaves if you have them. I was looking for a way to reduce my waste and I saw a friend make salsa verde with her parsley stems. I happened to have some cilantro stems and this pesto was born.

Pepitas: these are those little green hulled pumpkin seeds. I used them here because I thought it brought everything together. It is not necessary to use pepitas here, you can use any nut that you have on hand.

Nutritional Yeast: this is a vegan and/or paleo pantry staple. This interesting seasoning lends an umami flavor that helps mimic the flavor of cheese. Nooch does take some getting used to, but once you’re in, you’re in. If you are not dairy free, feel free to use parmesan in place of the nutritional yeast.

Substitutions: this soup is open to a lot of changes. If you are not vegan, feel free to use chicken or turkey stock. If you cannot live without parmesan: throw it in your pesto. No pepitas? Use walnuts, almonds, or pecans. Not a fan of coconut cream? Top the soup with yogurt or heavy cream.

This easy pantry pumpkin soup with cilantro stem pesto is sure to be a big hit and is waiting for your customizations.

Easy Pantry Pumpkin Soup With Cilantro Pesto

This easy soup comes together in 30 minutes and utilizes kitchen and pantry staples. The pesto is made with cilantro stems that are usually discarded, which helps cut down on food waste.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • Food Processor
  • Blender or Immersion Blender


Pumpkin Soup

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 ea celery ribs diced
  • 1 lg carrot diced
  • 1/8 tsp red chili flake
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp sumac (optional)
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

Cilantro Pesto

  • 1/4 cup pepitas toasted
  • 1 each garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup cilantro stems and/or leaves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil

Soup Topping

  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 1/4 cup pepitas toasted
  • a/n sumac (optional)


Pumpkin Soup

  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Sautee the onions, carrots, and celery over medium heat until soft and the onions are translucent. About 5 minutes.
  • Add in the chili flake, chili powder, and sumac. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the pumpkin and stock and stir until incorporated.
  • Bring up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  • Simmer the soup for 25 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.
  • Remove the soup from the heat and use an immersion blender or stand blender to blend until smooth.
    This is optional, but does make for a prettier presentation.

Cilantro Pesto

  • While the soup is simmering, make the pesto.
  • In a food processor place the pepitas, garlic, nutritional yeast, cilantro, and salt.
  • Blend on low speed until everything is finely chopped. This will take about 3 minutes. Stop and scrape the bowl every minute or so.
  • Once the ingredients are chopped, slowly drizzle in the 1/2 c of olive oil while on low speed. Stop and scrape the bowl.
    Add the extra 1/4 c if you prefer a thinner pesto.

To Serve

  • Divide the soup into four bowls.
  • Top the soup with dollops of coconut cream and sprinkle with toasted pepitas and sumac.
  • Spoon cilantro pesto in the center of the bowl.


This soup is best eaten within 4 days and often tastes even better the next day.
If you are not vegan/vegetarian, feel free to use chicken or turkey stock for this.
This soup is still great without the sumac if you don’t prefer that spice or cannot find it.
If you are not dairy free, try yogurt or heavy cream to garnish.
Pecans, walnuts, and almonds all work well with the pesto and topping. Use what you have on hand.
Keyword dairy free, easy, grain free, paleo, pantrystaples, vegan, whole30

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