Cream of pumpkin soup

October 12, 2010  •  Category:

When McDonald’s opened a franchise in Lebanon a few years ago, I felt indignation, contempt, anger and frustration. I just could not understand how my fellow Lebanese who had always been so keen on good food and fresh ingredients would patronize the king of fast foods. Reality has set in and now that there are several McDonald’s (as well as Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dunkin donuts etc) franchises in the country, I have become more placid about the whole affair.

So much so that the other day, as I was walking home, passing by the American University of Beirut (AUB), I glanced at the McDonald’s window, and lo and behold, saw something I did not expect: our very own biscuit au chocolat, as well as other sweets, an espresso machine and a sign: McCafé.

I walked in and asked the young man ” What is going on? Is this really McDonald’s? “He handed me a leaflet and said ” Lady, these McCafés are all over, even in America”.

I had to try my childhood’s  most favorite  renamed at McDonald’s Lazy Cake. It was actually good (hate to admit it), save for the glaze which was no ganache, of course.

However, their latest McArabia sandwich, a pseudo gyro with reheated frozen chicken patties was inedible.

But going back to real food, and pumpkins which have started to appear this season;  with the first whiff of fresh air, soup was in order.

Less is more when it comes to pumpkin soup; this pumpkin soup is velvety, sweet and smooth. Yet it has not a trace of sugar, nor cream.


  • 2 pounds of fresh pumpkin
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cube of chicken Maggi or 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • salt, pepper to taste


  1. Chop the onion fine. Clean the pumpkin of all the filaments, separate the seeds and clean them under running water.
  2. Sprinkle the seeds with salt and roast in a slow oven or dry in a sunny spot. (this step is optional, but highly recommended, as pumpkin seeds are full of health benefits)
  3. Melt the butter, add the onion and fry gently for 4 minutes. Add the pumpkin, cut in coarse chunks and fry for a few minutes.
  4. Add the water and bouillon cube or chicken stock as well as the cinnamon, salt and pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Cool the soup till lukewarm and process in a blender till smooth, adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with the roasted pumpkin seeds.

Click here for a biscuit au chocolat or Lazy Cake recipeor chocolate salami recipe.


28 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. vegetarianirvana says:

    Same as in India. In India it is a status symbol to eat in these retaurants and work there! Mcdonalds has plenty of vegetarian options and they don’t use beef or pork, being sensitive to Hindus and muslims. I think the patties are made from mutton and chicken. I have eaten there a couple of times and they do have some interesting choices just like you mentioned.

  2. Karen says:

    It’s always fascinating to see adaptations of local dishes McDonald’s comes up with. Fascinating and almost always gross– McArabia sounds pretty gnarly!

  3. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Mmm… your soup looks so silky and wonderful!

  4. kim says:

    McCafe? Pumpkin soup? The latter wins on all sides. 🙂

  5. Sayer says:

    McDonald’s for the sake of research, right? 😉

  6. Amanda says:

    I’m a bit shocked, Joumana – I never thought to see a McDonalds in Lebanon! I’ve no idea why I didn’t expect it as I’ve seen the one on the Champs Elysees in Paris and the one in Milan – they really are insidious.

  7. deana says:

    What a gorgeous pumpkin… I love the colors of the soup and the pumpkin. It is getting to be that time of year to buy them and puree them to use in so many things….like soup!

  8. The Nervous Cook says:

    It’s almost reassuring to hear that McDonald’s is as depressing internationally as it is here, though naturally as a coffee professional I wish with my whole heart that McCafe had never happened.

    Oh well.

    Back to real food, your pumpkin soup sounds phenomenal and warming! This is my year to look past jack-o-lanterns and actually cook with pumpkin; so far I’ve managed to make a delicious pumpkin-and-apple puree. I think I’m ready to tackle your deliciously simple-sounding soup!

  9. SYLVIA says:

    We tend to think of pumpkin only at Thanksgiving and Halloween, but this overlooked vegetable that is low in calories, Its orange color is absolutely stunning full of vitamins and beta carotene, pumpkin seed are a rich source of minerals, I like how they float on top of the soup with little added touch.This elegant soup goes down like velvet, food really brings us together especially during holiday feasts. Joumana, this pumpkin soup is Thanksgiving in a bowl, very creamy and lushes.
    Unfortunately fast food does not nourish our body, it’s highly processed and has chemical additives. The salt is very addictive so is the soda, it simply feeds our fast hunger, and our immediate fast cravings, without giving us the nutrient that we need.

  10. Katerina says:

    Mc Donald’s came to Greece as well and they were total failure. This is very rare but Greeks didn’t accept the low quality of food. I think I must grab some pumpkin and make this soup real fast. It looks so comforting.

  11. Cherine says:

    What a comforting bowl of soup!! I love it!

  12. Noha Baz says:

    your recipe sounds beautiful;i’ll try it this way
    i generally cook the pumpkin with small onions and half of a swet or plain potatoe;with a small amount of water without frying..then i smashed all together with adding a half skimmed very good quality fresh cream.
    add some dash of muscade and very good black pepper
    sprinkle with pumpkin and sunflower seeds just roasted and full of omega3 and 6
    the taste is great!

  13. Food Jihadist says:

    I have a giant mulberry tree in my parents backyard in Tucson, so I am itching to try this tea. The color is sensational.

  14. Heavenly Housewife says:

    Hmmm… havent seen any of these Mc Cafes here in the UK yet. I’ll keep my eyes open for them.
    Delicious looking soup, perfect for the chilly days we are having now 🙂
    *kisses* HH

  15. Sushma Mallya says:

    never thought of using pumpkin this way…love the colour,looks really good

  16. Joanne says:

    I think the beauty of pumpkin is that it can taste like dessert without actually being dessert. This soup sounds glorious.

    And major frustrations about mcdonald’s! What a terrible enterprise.

  17. HPD says:

    This is the first recipe i have found for pumpkin or squash anything that says to save and roast the seeds. All of the others say to discard. What a waste! Thanks so much for applying a little common sense. Cheers!

  18. Rajani says:

    i make this soup the exact same way, with the addition of garlic… excellent!

  19. peter says:

    Stick with the real food, thank you! This pumpkin soup is autumn goodness. Worldwide, convenience (including food) is being marketed.

    People don’t realize the money they spend on convenience foods will weigh in on their health eventually. Money saved at the market is money spent on the doctor later in life.

  20. Claudia says:

    This soup will definitely find its way to my table. Who need scream? Let the pumpkin shine! (So sorry about the American fast food enterprise covering the globe)

  21. Claudia says:

    My laptop doesn’t like spaces…. who needs … cream? (Although “scream” works for our Halloween)

  22. Sweet Artichoke says:

    I am definitely tempted by this creamy soup and have just bought a “potimarron” ! I love the addition of cinnamon!
    I nearly choked with laughter while reading about the McArabia! Here we have the “Swiss Cheese Saga”… pretty sticky, I imagine…

  23. Clare@MrsMultitasker says:

    Ooh that is one pretty soup. I usually use milk or cream but that’s cool that you used butter! I’ll have to try this sometime!

  24. The AmerArab Wife says:

    Interesting fact/possible urban legend: America has never been at war with any country that (at the time of the war) had a McDonald’s. There are not many McDonald’s-less countries left in the world, so at some point I assume that statement will become untrue, if it’s not already. Hungry Husband had the McArabia once when we were forced by colleagues (or rather, their children) to eat at McDonald’s several years ago in Fez, and gave it a big thumbs down. And he is not a picky person, so that says something!

  25. Tall Clover says:

    Joumana, do you know what type of pumpkin that is? It would be fun to grow a Lebanese pumpkin if there’s a specific variety that grows there. Thanks for another great recipe, especially since it’s soup season here.

    • Joumana says:

      Tom ,I will ask the gentleman that planted it; it will have to wait a few weeks as I am now back in Dallas wrapping up some business here.

  26. grace says:

    velvet-like is the perfect way to describe your amazing soup! well done, joumana. 🙂

  27. Dominique says:

    The recipe is great but the comments below about the international McDonalds are fascinating. I guess what I’ve always said about them is true– you don’t go to McD’s for a good cheeseburger, you go for a big mac, which tastes exactly like it did when I was six. Is it crap? Sure, but often nostalgic.
    I’m sure all their attempts to marked food toward their locality are pretty terrible but I guess I gotta hand it to them for trying to adapt to the surrounding patronage rather than trying to force burgers on them. (though a mutton burger sounds disgusting)
    I wonder why it failed in Greece. I’m sure the Greeks have SOME form of junk food so the assumption that it was simply rejected is probably not entirely accurate note likely the economy was just so messed up that McD figured there’s no profit to be made there? Who knows, though, maybe they tries to market one too many McSpanikopitas.

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