Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

Show of hands: who has a half-full (or empty) jar of tahini banging around the fridge?

I thought so.

I managed to accumulate three (three!), and I’m sick of looking at them.  Here’s a recipe that accomplishes three goals:

1.  It isn’t hummus.

2.  It uses up tahini.

3.  It’s frickin’ awesome.

Warmly spiced, slightly nutty, tangy, full-flavored, and filling.  It’s everything I want soup to be.  Pumpkin seed garnish is optional; crusty bread is not.

Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

If you're firmly against using canned pumpkin (why, I have no idea), feel free to use any sort of winter squash, sweet potato, or what-have-you. Me, I'm just trying to get dinner together.


  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat (or butter or olive oil)
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small), diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (ground or whole seeds)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Serrano chile, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 12 ounces red lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups stock or water
  • 1 cup tahini (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 cup buttermilk


1. Heat the bacon fat in a large stock pot or Dutch oven, over medium to medium-high heat.

2. Add the diced onion, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and stir to coat with the fat. While the onion cooks, dice the celery. Add the celery to the pot. Stirring occasionally, cook until just beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare or gather the remaining ingredients.

3. Stir in the curry paste, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, garlic, Serrano, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Take care to not let the spices burn (decrease heat or add a splash of water if necessary to prevent scorching).

4. Add the pumpkin, lentils, and stock, stirring to combine. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook uncovered until the lentils have completely fallen apart, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.

5. Remove the bay leaf, and add the tahini. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup in the pot until completely smooth. (Alternatively, purée the soup in a blender, being extremely careful when blending any hot liquid.)

6. Stir in the buttermilk. Taste, and correct the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Serve at once, drizzled with a little olive oil if you like.

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