I love a good pea and ham soup, but ham and pumpkin soup has become a clear favourite this winter. It’s such a great flavour combination, and warming meal. Perfect for those days you feel frozen to your core.
Health benefits of this soup
Pumpkin as our main ingredient here makes this soup an excellent source of vitamin A. This crucial micronutrient is needed for growth and development, good vision, mucous membrane health, reducing inflammation, and improving immune function (1, 2). Pumpkin is also a great source of fibre and contains other wonderful nutrients such as vitamin E, and vitamin C (though this is affected by cooking).
Another stand out ingredients is cumin. This has traditionally been used to treat gut issues like parasites, diarrhoea and loss of appetite (3, 4). Additionally, it’s also been used for respiratory disorders, lowering blood pressure and many things in between (4).
Ingredients to make ham and pumpkin soup
The ham hock in this recipe really deepens the flavours and adds a little richness to the soup. They have been difficult to come by on occasion this winter though! If you find that’s the case when you go to buy one, this can definitely be made without it. The leg ham alone will still give it some of that lovely smokey taste.
- Butternut pumpkin – Sweet, delicious and generally, readily available. This is easily my go to variety for soups.
- Leek – This adds to the sweetness of the soup and goes so well with the pumpkin.
- Ham slices and hock – I’ve used both here to really give the soup a smokey flavour. The ham pieces being blended with the pumpkin at the end also help to thicken the soup.
- Chicken stock – My preference is always home made because it is one of the most nourishing foods. If you don’t have it though – just go with store bought. See my note at the end of the recipe regarding salt if you’re using a stock from the supermarket.
- Cumin – One of my top five favourite spices. I put it in a lot of our meals and would not own a spice rack that didn’t feature it. It’s a wonderfully pungent spice that helps to highlight the sweetness of this dish, and comes with many and varied health benefits (when used frequently) as outlined above.
- Garlic – I’ve used two small cloves because we just want a hint of garlic so it doesn’t overpower all the other flavours. If you want more you do you!
- Sage – The very herbaceous taste of sage adds a hint of earthiness to the soup. A perfect match for both the sweetness of the pumpkin and the smokiness of the ham. I love to pan-fry a little sage in olive oil until it’s crisp then crumble over the top before serving.
That mix of ingredients will keep you warm and nourished all winter long. I make this as a big batch soup so I can freeze some for those days I don’t want to cook.
How to make ham and pumpkin soup
I’ve made this recipe using my instant pot but it can easily be done on the stovetop too. Check the FAQ section below for how to do that. It’s much the same, just ensure you use a lovely big pot. The pumpkin is chopped chunky style and ham hocks are usually large so they need the room.
- Chop pumpkin and ham, and slice leek. Give the leek a good rinse to get rid of any residual dirt too.
- Sauté the ham slices in some olive oil and cook for a few minutes until browned. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Add remaining olive oil to the pot, then the leek and sauté until softened (3-4mins).
- Stir in the garlic, cumin, chopped sage and seasoning then sauté for 1 minute more.
- Add pumpkin, and toss through the leek and spice to coat. Now add chicken stock, reserved ham, and give it all a quick stir.
- Nestle the ham hock down into the pumpkin. Put the lid on the pot and select pressure cook, then set the timer for 10 minutes.
- Once cooked, hit cancel and let the pressure release naturally. This should take about 20 minutes, if it’s not done by then manually release the remaining pressure.
- Take out ham hock, allow to cool briefly while you whizz up the soup with a stick blender. Once done shred any meat on the hock with two forks to use as a garnish.
- Serve soup and add the shredded meat plus any other toppings of your choice.
My preference has always been butternut because it’s sturdier than some of the softer pumpkins and doesn’t release as much water. Nothing worse than a watery soup when you want something thick and warming.
Yes! Simply follow the instructions in the recipe to step 5 then bring the soup to the boil, drop the heat to low, cover and leave to simmer with the lid on for 45mins to an hour. Give the ham hock time to release it’s delicious smokey flavour. Once cooked, continue with step 7 then serve.
- Instant pot (though this can be made on the stove top too)
- Stick blender
- 1.4 kg butternut pumpkin, chopped into chunks (about 2.5cm / 1 inch)
- 1 leek, thinly sliced
- 200 g ham off the bone (roughly chopped)
- 1 ham hock
- 3-4 cups chicken stock (use 3 if you want a thick soup, 4 if you like it thinner)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 1 Tbsp fresh sage (finely chopped)
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt*
- Pepper to taste
- Toppings of choice. Aside from the ham hock meat I added garlic croutons and a little extra sage that I'd pan-fried in olive oil.
- Press the sauté button on the instant pot and set the timer to 10 minutes. Add in one tablespoon of olive oil and once warm, add in the chopped ham slices. Cook for a few minutes until just starting to brown. Remove and set aside.
- Add remaining olive oil to the pot, then the leek and sauté until softened (3-4mins). If the bottom of your instant pot is very browned from cooking the ham, the leek will help lift this.
- Stir in the garlic, cumin, chopped sage plus salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute more to let the spices release their aroma.
- Add in the chopped pumpkin, and toss it through the leek and spices to coat. Now add chicken stock and reserved ham, and give it all a quick stir.
- Nestle the ham hock down into the pumpkin as best you can. Put the lid on the instant pot and select pressure cook. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
- Once the timer goes off, hit cancel and let the pressure release naturally. This should take about 20 minutes, if it's not done by then manually release the remaining pressure.
- Take out ham hock, allow to cool briefly while you whizz up the soup in the pot using a stick blender. Once done shred any meat on the hock with two forks to use as a garnish.
- Serve the ham and pumpkin soup then top with the shredded meat plus any other toppings of your choice. I used garlic croutons and pan-fried a little sage in olive oil.