Pumpkin, taro and chicken soup

January 9, 2011  •  Category:


Thank God for soups! I love them, don’t you?

All you need here is some winter vegetables and a chicken. I used canned pumpkin, and some taro root from the neighborhood supermarket. Taro is similar to potatoes in taste, just with a more pronounced flavor.

Taro root is popular in Lebanon and the Middle-East. It is called kolkass in Arabic.

If you want to avoid peeling and cutting it, it is available at Middle-eastern grocers frozen and already cut up.

It is a simple but filling soup, based on a chicken cooked in its broth, some pumpkin purée and the taro (aka colocase) cut up in chunks. Flavored with turmeric and onions.


  • 1 small chicken or a few chicken parts, about 2 to 3 pounds
  • several onions, chopped
  • 2 cans of pumpkin
  • Seasonings: salt, bay leaves, 1 Tablespoon of turmeric, 2 garlic cloves, white pepper, paprika, a dash of cinnamon *and whatever else you fancy at the time)
  • 1 or 2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 pounds of taro roots or a bag of frozen and cut up taro (colocasia)
  • 1/2 cup of whipping cream or several packets of kiri or any other creamy spread cheese (optional)


  1. Clean the chicken by rubbing it with a cut lemon. Rub some oil on it (sesame, olive, canola, corn). Season it with salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon all over. Heat a pot and when it is hot, place the chicken in it fry it in the pot all over till golden throughout. Add 6 cups of tap water (depending on the size of the bird, adding more if necessary), the bay leaves, the chopped onion, garlic cloves and bring to a simmer. Simmer the chicken in its broth for one hour or until it is cooked and tender. Turn off the heat, cool a bit and drain.
  2. Collect the broth in the pot. Cut the chicken pieces in small segments and discard bones and skin. Set aside. Peel the taro root (use gloves) and cut in chunks, placing the chunks in the chicken broth.

  1. Place the pot over the stove, bring to a steady simmer and add the pumpkin. Stir a bit and let it simmer until the taro are cooked, about 15 minutes. Add some cream at this point and simmer for another 15 minutes or so, tasting the soup to adjust the seasoning. Add the cut-up chicken pieces at the end. Serve warm.


TIP: If you decide to peel and cut the taro in advance, make sure to wear gloves and place the chunks in a bowl of water in which you will squeeze some fresh lemon juice.

Feel free to play around with the spices in this soup; with both these vegetables and chicken, pretty much anything goes!


34 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    A “lift me up” soup!



  2. khalil says:

    I liked that you mentioned to wear gloves, it was a bit sticky to handle. Another good two good tips to remember: not to nibble on the raw taro, it is slightly poisonous uncooked and to make sure the taro is cooked thoroughly.

    I learned this from personal experience, which I then researched after the fact…my lips went numb and my throat constricted a little bit, this wasn’t an allergic reaction. Here is a brief Wikipedia mention on it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taro#Toxicity).

    • Joumana says:

      @Khalil: Thanks so much for these important tips!

      @Katerina: taro or colocasia is I believe a popular vegetable in Cyprus, for sure.

      @Kouki: on peut remplacer le taro par de la pomme de terre, tout simplement

  3. Heni says:

    We have taro here but never knew what to do with it. So now thanks to you Joumana, a nice way to try it out – I am sure tasty and no fail recipe from you!

  4. Katerina says:

    You had me google Jumana with this taro root. I had no idea what this is and still I am not sure I got it. I love soups especially in cold winter days. I have no idea if taro is sold in Greece. You intrigued me and I will try to find out. This one looks perfect.

  5. kouky says:

    hummm!! ta soupe est très appétissante!! bien que n’ayant jamais vu de taro, je suis bien tentée de la préparer, mais par quoi remplacer le taro? merci ! bonne soirée!

  6. Steve @ HPD says:

    Haven’t seen taro root in ages. Betting this new market has it, though. Cheers!

  7. Susan says:

    Yes, I do love soups! The chicken and pumpkin do sound wonderful together!

  8. Katie @Cozydelicious says:

    This looks fantastic. I enjoyed taro when I was in Hawaii but haven;t seen it around here. I’ll have to look for it. Love the combo with pumpkin.

  9. stacey snacks says:

    I have never seen or used taro root before.
    But I could use some of that soup right now for this miserable winter head cold that won’t quit!

  10. T.W. Barritt says:

    Nice! Looks so warming for a cold winter night! I’ve never tried taro – I’ll have to see what the flavor is like.

  11. 5 Star Foodie says:

    This looks like a hearty and warming soup, I love your use of taro root here!

  12. Claudia says:

    I love soup andmake it 3-4 timesa week during the winter. This is so very comforting – healthy, filling, winning (can you tell I have a cold and am craving soup?)

  13. Hannah says:

    This looks so wonderfully nourishing! I’ve never cooked with taro before – in fact, I think I’ve only had it in bags of “exotic vegetable” chips! 😛

  14. marcellina says:

    Love your recipes and stories! It is like being transported around the world! Thank you! This soup looks great though I think I would have to sub potatoes for the taro – no taro here that I know of. I love the spices and the tip about cleaning the chicken with the cut lemon.

  15. Jamie says:

    Oooh yes, we love soup and are eating it every evening this winter. And anything with pumpkin is perfect to me! Great recipe and it looks thick, rich and tasty!

  16. oum mouncifrayan says:

    c’est vraiment bien appétissant…bravo

  17. Sally says:

    Thank you for explaining what those unidentified objects in my supermarket are. They are labelled as kolkass – I now know what taro root is and will make this soup very soon. It looks so nourishing and comforting.

  18. Koek! says:

    Delicious… So, would you call this ‘Lebanese penicillin’?

  19. maptiteacademie says:

    recette appétissante, je pense que le taro en France s’appelle “crosne”, je vais tester,

  20. Louise says:

    Wow this looks amazing. It’s not much of a summer here in Australia- I’ll have to keep this in mind to make soon. I’ve been playing around with a beautiful ras el hanout mix recently, I bet it would be wonderful in this. I don’t think that I’ve ever eaten taro, although have frequently seen it in the shops. It’s so interesting to learn about taro toxicity as well, and then recognise the elephant ears that my mother had growing in the garden when I was a kid!

  21. Sommer@ASP says:

    Gorgeous soup! It looks healthy and completely irresistible. I’ll look for Taro root!

  22. Barbara says:

    I bet the lemon in your soup pushes it over the top, Joumana. I can get taro here; my first introduction to it was in Hawaii. The pumpkin is an interesting ingredient too. m
    Really an interesting soup; looks delicious!

  23. sensiblecooking says:

    I am a very soupy person, love love love any kind of soup. What a wonderful and different recipe. I use taro mostly with lentil soup but haven’t tried it with chicken. Can’t wait to give this a try. All those flavor, herbs, pumpkin making me drool right now just looking at the picture.

  24. SYLVIA says:

    Joumana, this is a hearty, and a chunky chicken soup that’s loaded with antioxidant rich vegetables. Taro plant has Raphides for self defense against different kind of plant predators, because of its little crystal Raphides people must cook them, once cooked it’s extremely healthy and good for us to eat, It protects our cells from damages, improves our immune system, and reduces aging.

  25. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    I love a hard winter soup and I am a BIG fan of pumpkin soup. With the exotic taro touch this is right up my alley.

  26. Faith says:

    Oh, yes, I do love soups, Joumana! This one has such a lucsiously creamy consistency…and it’s very healthy too! My kind of soup. 😉

  27. Medifast Coupons says:

    A great take on the old favourite! This beautiful chicken soup is food for the soul.

  28. abaretruth says:

    Do you have a vegetarian version ? I would love to try it

  29. TastyTrix says:

    Honestly I think my belly has turned into a tureen, all I have eaten this month is soup. This one looks fabulous; I’ve had taro, but (I don’t think) in a soup.

  30. TS of eatingclub says:

    Oh, interesting! I never knew that taro was widely used in Lebanon! It’s common in Chinese and even Southeast Asian cooking, but not so much in North America. =)

  31. Ketchum restaurants says:

    Hmm this one looks interesting and savoring. I’m not so familiar with middle-eastern cuisine. Perhaps this is worth to try for especially during this cold season when we need some soup like this to keep us heated.

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