The Korean take-out-inspired, coconut pumpkin soup recipe that taught me how to embrace cooking

Guest post by Jennifer
cooking coconut pumpkin soup
Cooking coconut pumpkin soup, by: CC BY 2.0

I am exceptionally bad at self-care, so I was less than thrilled when my parents asked me to house sit for a three day weekend. Their house has a hot tub, cable TV, a loving black lab, and a fully-stocked kitchen that is three times the size of my kitchen at home. But somehow I still loathed the idea of spending three days alone, relaxing, and cooking for myself.

Normally my amazing foodie husband cooks for me, mostly because he loves cooking and I have kitchen anxiety. I have always been intimidated by his ability to embrace the creative process, and playfully whiz around the kitchen. I am awkward, and nearly injure myself every time I try to cook. I LOVE eating, and am 100% grateful that I get to try something new and delightful almost every night (curries and pastas and frittatas oh my!), but I am always envious of my husband’s culinary wizardry.

My husband was allowed in the kitchen at an early age, and I was often told to “go play” while my parents were cooking. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I realized I was missing an entire set of skills. I turn 30 next year, and I have only learned the basics.

On Friday, the first night I was alone at my parents’ house, in my usual pattern of kitchen-avoidance, I ordered Korean take-out and put on a Gene Wilder movie. I felt compelled to save the delicious thick sweet chili sauce that goes on the Bibimbap. (I googled it: it’s called “Gochujang”)

After spending most of Saturday watching the Food Network, I got inspired. I did some digging in my parents’ kitchen, and I found some pureed pumpkin in the freezer from last fall, a can of coconut milk, and some carrots. I remembered a delicious coconut pumpkin risotto that my husband made last year, and thought about trying to google a recipe. But then I discovered their mother-effing VITAMIX with a “hot soup” setting.

I took a few deep breaths, put on some music, and decided to wing it.

When I finally tasted my soup, everything made sense. This is why my husband loves cooking so much. It was FUN. I made a restaurant quality soup. All by myself. A soup that completely embraces the non-official start of fall; deliciously fatty, with a stunning orange color and perfect creamy texture. An artistic masterpiece.

Over the course of the long weekend, I felt a sense of accomplishment and relaxation. I had taken a step toward conquering a fear. I ate most of the pot and barely managed to save a few spoonfuls for my husband.

I felt compelled to write this recipe down, and share it with someone because I was very pleased with myself, and I learned a little about self-care in the process. Enjoy!


• About 2 cups of pureed pumpkin (a 12oz can will work)
• 12oz can coconut milk (don’t use the lite kind, this soup needs the fat)
• 12oz can broth of your choice (I used vegetable broth, but chicken broth would be yummy, too)
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 extra large carrot, chopped
• 1-2 TBL spicy gochujang paste (you can likely find it at an Asian specialty stores, or just order Korean take out, like I did. You could probably use Siracha in a pinch.)
• 1 TBL butter (use olive oil, if you’re vegan)


  1. In a medium pot, sauté the carrots and onions in the butter for about 10 minutes, until the onions are clear and the carrots are soft. Add about half of the can of broth while it all cooks down.
  2. Add the pureed pumpkin and remaining broth. Bring to a simmering boil for a few minutes. The soup mixture was pretty thick at this point.
  3. Let the soup cool for a few minutes and then dump it into a blender. Be extra careful — this was the scariest part.
  4. Pour the soup back into the pot, and add the whole can of coconut milk.
  5. Stir in the Gochujang Paste to taste, depending on how spicy you like things.
  6. Relax, and enjoy slowly, by yourself. You made this!

Comments on The Korean take-out-inspired, coconut pumpkin soup recipe that taught me how to embrace cooking

  1. If you don’t have a Vitamix, be careful at the blending stage. I have exploded hot soup all over the kitchen more times than I care to admit! (Hot soup expands when you blend it.) I love cooking and that made me almost want to give up, so don’t make my mistake! If you are Vitamix-less, you can use an immersion blender or just do small batches in the blender at a time so the soup has room to expand. 😀

    • An immersion blender solves the potential soup explosion problem…though it probably won’t give the soup as amazing of a texture that the vitamix would.

      • I’ve made similar soups with my immersion blender and the texture isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good, IMO. I think it’s worth the trade-off in effort/clean up (since I have never used a Vitamix, I can only compare to normal blenders). Just putting it out there for those who don’t have the big bucks to drop on a Vitamix. YOU TOO CAN HAVE SOUPY GOODNESS. 😉

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  3. This is my first OBH article, and I just wanted to thank anyone who tries this recipe! If you have any substitutions, or variations, please feel free to share here.

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