Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup

A gorgeous soup for the soul- gluten and dairy-free...

Sweet potatoes add body and a boost of color and to one of my seasonal favorites- pumpkin soup. But before I get to the recipe, Dear Reader, I just need to kvetch a little. This won't take long.

You see, I am cooking from the left side of my brain- and I don't like it one bit. Well, truth be told, I'm actually doing more consulting in the kitchen than chopping and stirring and getting my hands all nice and sticky.

Which is exactly the point.

I must sit apart from all the action and fun, perched as I now am in my wheelchair, offering verbal guidance (the generous of spirit might even say, wisdom) to my willing-but-never-cooked-much husband while he does all the culinary work. Our tiny kitchen really has no room for me (and my new wheels) to wedge myself close enough to be of any substantial help. This cocina ain't big enough for the two of us. So the gimp has to sit this one out. Off to the side.

Which leads us back to the whole left brain-right brain verbal vs. visual mystique.

You see, I cook without recipes, for the most part. I use what I have on hand, what's in season. I improvise. And my baking recipes I adhere to with, maybe, 80 to 90% fidelity. I'm always seduced by, What if... I'm intuitive. Spontaneous. And messy (just ask my husband). I never toss the same ingredients together twice in exactly the same way. It's called being a right brained visual thinker. I am unable (even if I wanted to) to follow instructions in a linear fashion. I'm genetically resistant to the concept of: this is tried and true so don't mess with it.

So when my lovely, patient, helpful husband asks me, How much balsamic vinegar do I add? I stare blankly (I'm pondering). I visualize (which sparks the neural pathways in the right side of my brain where I see pictures). Then I start to conjure a verbal response (scurrying back to the left brain) and I approximate my intuition, pictures and kinesthetic antics into speech.

I wave my arm and twist my hands in the air like a lunatic.

And it's never quite right. It's an approximation. Subtle shades of taste lost in translation. To be fair, we've had plenty of good meals based on this left brain verbal analysis. Steve has made a killer meatloaf and a damn fine shrimp stir-fry among many, tasty dishes. I am more than well fed (um, I've gained five pounds).

It's just that, well, I miss the whole hands-on thing. The whole stirring, humming, chopping, seasoning, splashing, tasting, guessing, adjusting, making a mess thing. When I cook my whole body gets involved. Much more so than my imperfect brain. So I miss that.

I've tried using the walker to stand on one foot next to the counter (I can do that for three minutes or so before I get wobbly and loopy and gratefully sit back down in the wheelchair). I've placed a cutting board on my lap and sliced green peppers and onions. But instead of feeling helpful, I start to feel like I'm simply in the way, interrupting Dear Husband's flow, blocking the door to the fridge or the cupboard that inevitably holds the thing he is reaching for. I spend my time in the kitchen wheeling backward and forward, forward and backward, trying (in a goddess-like manner, of course) not to be an obstacle.

So that is where I'm at. Six weeks down, two more to go- before we x-ray this old celiac hip again and check our progress. In the meantime, there will still be no funny business. I'll behave. And sit safely in my wheelchair. Tossing my opinions out like so many chocolate sprinkles. 

Here's a soup we made.

Snow in New Mexico.

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup Recipe

I've been making this basic recipe for years. I used to call it Winter Solstice Pumpkin Soup because the vibrant color reminded me of the sun during the darkest time of year. Use fresh or canned pumpkin or winter squash- either way, it's deceptively simple to prepare.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon curry powder- mild or hot, to taste
Dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 14.5-oz. can pumpkin (or 2 heaping cups fresh, peeled and cubed)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cubed
6 cups light vegetable broth
2-3 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine, if desired
1/2 can coconut milk, to taste
Lime zest for garnish


In a heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until softened. Add in the chopped carrots and celery, and stir in the spices. Lower heat and gently cook for about 10 minutes, being careful not to brown the onions.

Add in the pumpkin, sweet potato and vegetable broth, and sherry; stir together. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cooking the soup for about 25-35 minutes until the vegetables are very tender.

Remove from heat, and puree the soup with an immersion hand blender right in the pot; or puree it batches in a blender or food processor (carefully ladle the soup into a blender not more than half full, cover tightly and puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy; return the puree to soup pot).

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Return the pot to low-medium heat. Stir in the coconut milk and blend till smooth. Warm through gently for ten minutes- don't boil it.

Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of lime zest.

Perfect with my Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Bread, warm from the oven.

Serves 6.

Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

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  1. Anonymous14:22

    Hi Karina. This is the first time I have posted on your website after perusing all those delicious recipes. Thanx so much for your tips! I had t comment on the right brain- I get that. My husband needs exact measurements where I thrive on experimenting and a touch of this and a touch of that. Its a woman thing I'm sure! HA! another recipe I've come across that I want to try is the Almond pie crust. I want to try it, however your instructions say to cool before filling. What if I need to bake the pumpkin part can I put it back in the oven?
    When I get use to posting you will be hearing more from me.

  2. This looks like a yummy combo; we're stuck on soups and especially sweet potato and coconut lately.

    Your "maneuvering" around the kitchen sounds like Jon's poor awkward dance in the kitchen while I cook :) Glad to hear you've kept up that fiery spirit (and didn't dump the onions you were cutting in your lap... that's not very comfortable chopping!) I can imagine you verbalizing and waving around exactly how much "a dash" of something is. These precise, analytical cooks don't get it, hehe. You know to be a fly on the wall and see the frantic arm motions...
    I'll keep praying for your fast healing. But thank you and Steve for sharing your recipes, lives, and cookin' love with all of us.

  3. That's a tasty-looking soup.

    My husband is the same way; I have to specify for him how much to add of things like vanilla extract and spices. I don't know! Till it feels right! He's very left-brained about cooking.

  4. I LOVE soups like this in the fall!! Especially with good crusty bread like that gypsy bread i'm going to try!!

  5. Hi Karina- First time to comment here. Thank you so much for this blog. My (just turned 7 year old) son was diagnosed with Celiac on October 24. He also has Type1 Diabetes (diagnosed 12/6/06). Just wanted to thank you for your effort and (unknowing) support. We are going gluten free in the household and your words have really buoyed me in my new effort. Thank you and many blessings to you and especially your hip. PS: I totally rocked the GF Thanksgiving- our first.

  6. Mary Frances00:01

    Intuitive cooking is so much fun. I love to just close my eyes and reach out with my intuition to feel out what other ingredient I should add to my pot. It's good to know there are other kindred souls that cook in this wonderfully trusting and adventuring way =)

  7. Awww I know how hard that is! I had major surgery a couple years ago and had to watch while a complete Thanksgiving dinner was cooked in my kitchen and all I could do was sit in my rocker. You will be back at it before you know it. The last couple weeks of healing seems the longest though. But, it looks like he is doing a pretty fair job! Keep getting well!

  8. I just had to tell you 1)how much I enjoy your blog and thanks once again for your recipes,etc
    2)Thanks for validating the 'right-brain thing. All these years my mother talked about the way I didn't follow a recipe as if it were a BAD thing!LOL. (It doesn't usually stop her from eating what I cook tho).

  9. Hi Lavenderhue, Glad you posted- thanks so much! You can bake the almond crust again, filled- but- I would bake it for less time the first time. Maybe half? Then let it cool before you fill it.

    And also- when it's baked again, keep an eye on it, and if you need to- cover the edges with foil strips to keep the crust from over-browning.

    Hi Cindy! It is yummy- and so good for you. Love those beta carotenes. Thanks for all the good healing vibes. :)

    Hi Sally! I think Steve is actually balanced with all the left-right brain stuff. But I'm totally intuitive (and terrible at math!).

    Hola Carrie- That gypsy bread is yummy. Let me know if you try it.

    Hiya KT! Thank you for your kind words- and I'm so glad you now have answers for your son. It means a lot to me that you feel empowered here. Excellent that you rocked Thanksgiving! Yes! :) Love it.

    Mary Frances- Makes me think of Practical Magic! ;) Have you seen it (read it)?

    Hello Gluti Girl! Wow- you *do* get it. Thanks for your kind words- and yes- two weeks to go- hopefully all of this hard work at healing will pay off. :)

    Hi Lauri Ann! Oh- thank *you*! And I am here to totally validate you, Babycakes. I know what that situation is like.

    There's more than one way to make a stew. And my educated guess is that your non-linear intuitive way is a lot more tasty. :)

    Keep cooking, you Goddesses!


  10. Anonymous04:22


    This recipe was amazing. I came across your site after being directed here by my friends at glutenfree.com forums. I cannot express how grateful I am for all your advice and recipes, they have been a lifesaver since I've started on the GF/CF Vege journey.
    This soup was just what I needed today, to stop me feeling so flat.
    I hope you're feeling a lot better now and look forward to cooking up many more of your new recipes :)
    Abundant love and best wishes to you,
    - Amy

  11. Hi Amy!

    Thanks for stopping by to comment. And thank you for your kind words. You are very sweet!

    I hope you find lots of vegetarian/vegan recipes here- I have well over 100, I believe.

    warm regards,


  12. Anonymous19:07

    I used the pumpkin my son brought home from the pumpkin patch. I hadn't carved it and was determined not to let it go to waste. I followed the recipe exactly, except I didn't have any allspice. It came out wonderfully. My family loved it. I'm now about to make another batch from the rest of the pumpkin.



  13. Oh yum! Nothing like the fresh quality of a pumpkin patch pumpkin. I'm envious. Thanks for stopping back to share!


  14. Not sure if I'm missing something, but as it appears on my computer screen, the recipe calls for "1/2 coconut milk, to taste". 1/2 cup? can? tablespoon? actual whole coconut? :) Can you please specify? Thanks!

  15. Sorry- it's 1/2 can (the link goes to a can of Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk); that would be about 7 oz; add more, to taste. Cheers! Karina

  16. Making it now! I added a fresh honey crisp apple and a little fresh garlic. Smelling so good!! Can't wait to chow down with a side of millet and sautéed spinach. A meal the whole family will enjoy! Thank you for your inspiration!!

  17. If I'm using canned pumpkin when do I add that? I can't wait to make it.