Cooking With Friends Part One: Karissa’s Moroccan-Spiced Pumpkin Soup

When I received an e-mail with the subject line “Cook Together?” from my wonderful friend Karissa, my interest was piqued.  I knew the answer was “yes” even before knowing the details.  Sure, we’ve embarked on culinary adventures together before…like the time we made sushi rolls and miso soup, hands all sticky with rice and seaweed; or put ourselves into a sugar coma with a big batch of vanilla buttercream macaroons.

Karissa’s co-worker in Morocco (yes, that’s right–Morocco!) had given her a cheeky little organic pumpkin as an early fall gift.  Not long after her invitation to make pumpkin soup together, I found myself toting my own heirloom pumpkin through the Cherry Creek Farmers Market.

What follows is Karissa’s experience living, cooking, sharing with friends, and her Moroccan take on pumpkin soup…

Part One:  Moroccan-Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Text and Photos by Karissa Swanson-Moore

I was delighted when Imane, my coworker and fellow lover-of-cooking, presented me with a little organic pumpkin and a note: “Happy Early Fall & Happy Cooking.” I spent two weeks deliberating over the most creative possibility for this charming vegetable.

Of course, I emailed my dear friend and greatest cooking inspiration, Jenny, and we devised a plan. Choose a basic pumpkin soup recipe, adapt it to your liking, and share! I perused many recipes, and realized that aside from the pumpkin-apple sweet idea, none of these quite fit the bill for me.

I devised a way to fill my soup with my favorite Moroccan spices: cinnamon, saffron, and cumin. Accompany those with the fun things I find in the market: quince, big yellow raisins. There you have it, a recipe of my own whim, and a day to make it happen. Here is my story of Moroccan cooking.

This rainy morning I wandered to the underground market, basket in hand, expecting a lull in activity. Not so, as I was pushed aside multiple times by the guy squeeging water from the walkway.  Here are my main ingredients.

My ness (that’s half in Arabic) kilos of ingredients are weighed quickly on the scale and bagged up by efficient hands.

Part of the adventure of cooking in Morocco is getting the ingredients. A woman cannot go to the market alone without a sense of humor. Trying to be careful about taking pictures of others, I asked this man if I could photograph his vegetables. What followed was a series of posed shots, taken by the guy selling tomatoes, of the shopkeepers and I.

All said and done, I paid decent prices and walked, heavy with produce, back to my kitchen. After thoroughly washing my vegetables, which includes a bath of water and a dash of bleach (lesson learned from past experience), I attempt to capture the beauty of this food before I chop it all up!

An army of zucchini

Moroccan celery

Grumpy-faced quince

My adventure is almost complete. “There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the Real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.”  As artist Brian Andreas so eloquently puts it, it’s time to share this soup with the friends I’ve made in Morocco.

Moroccan-Spiced Pumpkin Soup

By Karissa

  • 1 small pumpkin (approx. 1.5 lbs), peeled and cubed.
  • 2 quince, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium yellow or Vidalia onion
  • approx. 5 cups vegetable broth (see below) or Chicken Broth (the exact amount will vary depending on your desired consistency)
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • Generous pinch of saffron, soaked in about ¼ cup of hot water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 ¼ cup yellow raisins and crushed walnuts for garnish

Vegetable Broth

  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ head of a small cabbage, cut into large pieces
  • 2 large green onions (5 small), chopped
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 6 Celery stems and leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, knotted
  • 3 small zucchini, chopped into large pieces
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cinnamon sticks


Start with the vegetable broth.  Fill a big kettle halfway with water and a pinch of salt.  Add the chopped vegetables and more water to cover.  Add the spices and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn heat down to a simmer, cover, and allow to simmer for 2 hours.

When the broth is almost finished, start preparing the pumpkin soup. Heat a large saucepan; add butter, and sauté the pumpkin, followed by the quince, then the onion.

Remove the carrots, cabbage, and zucchini from the vegetable broth and add them to the pumpkin mixture. Pour some of the broth into this mixture, making sure to not add too much or the soup will be watery.

Add the spices, except the saffron, and bring to boil. When the quince and pumpkin are nearly tender, add 1 cup of the raisins and the saffron-water mixture.

When all ingredients are cooked, use a mixing wand or blender to puree the soup.

Present with a dollop of plain yogurt, crushed walnuts, and yellow raisins. Serve with crusty bread.


Filed under Soups and Stews

2 responses to “Cooking With Friends Part One: Karissa’s Moroccan-Spiced Pumpkin Soup

  1. Kathy Chriqui

    You’re moroccan celery looks like chard to me!

  2. I am Imane, Karissa’s co-worker! I love your blog and all your recipes. My favorite is the tomato soup!!! It was so delicious! Thanks for sharing!
    Nice post! 🙂

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