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Curried Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Soup Recipe

by Lorraine Thompson on February 11, 2009

“They’re called Cinderella pumpkins,” my farmer-greengrocer told me when I asked him about the flat, wheel-shaped pumpkins piled in bins next to the butternut squash.

I studied the pearly, buff colored pumpkins. An heirloom vegetable with an enchanting backstory.


Who cared what it tasted like? I picked out the prettiest and bought it.

The friendly checkout lady told me the pumpkins were good in pies. If so, I imagined they’d be good in soup.

Cheese Pumpkins work well in sweet and savory recipes

They made delicious soup. They worked fabulously in pies. The pumpkins soon became a fall and winter staple in the Copywriters’ Kitchen.

So I was only slightly disappointed to learn their fairytale moniker was incorrect: It seems my favorite pumpkin didn’t spring from the soil of Perrault’s 17th century France. Instead they came from Long Island.

Well alright.

Factory farming almost destroyed heirloom pumpkin

Named Long Island Cheese Pumpkins—because they resemble a wheel of cheddar—the squash are an old-fashioned variety. As farming evolved into big business in the 20th century, Cheese Pumpkins fell out of favor.

Their odd shape slowed their roll along factory-farm conveyor belts. Busy people found Cheese Pumpkin’s tough, rounded rind time-consuming to peel.

But the pumpkin’s taste is well worth your extra effort. Underneath Cheese Pumpkins’ thick, creamy skin, you’ll find a dense, burnt orange-colored flesh—and none of Jack-o’-Lantern pumpkins’ stringiness. Their sweet flavor is similar to—but more delicate than—butternut squash.

I recently discovered that real Cinderella pumpkins exist. But I still think Cheese Pumpkins make superior carriages for the Cinder Girl.



Curried Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Soup

1 small Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped—about 5-6 cups. If unavailable, use medium sized butternut or other winter squash.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth—I use Knorr’s Bouillon Cubes and hot water
2 teaspoons Demerara or brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream and milk—any proportion you like.

  1. Peel, seed and chop pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and cut the pumpkin into manageable vertical slices. Cheese pumpkin rind is very tough. I cut it off by laying the slices sideways on a chopping board and cutting downward. Chop pumpkin into 2” pieces.
  2. Chop onion—I use a mini food processor.
  3. Slice celery.
  4. In heavy stockpot or Dutch Oven heat olive oil until hot, but not smoking.
  5. Throw in onions, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting flame to keep vegetables from browning, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add ginger, curry powder, red pepper, turmeric, cumin and coriander. Lower flame and cook, stirring occasionally, to allow spices’ flavor to bloom fully—for about 5 more minutes.
  7. Add pumpkin, stir to coat with spices. Cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting flame to keep vegetables from browning.
  8. Add hot broth and sugar, cover pot, and bring to boil, then immediately reduce to low simmer.
  9. Simmer broth and vegetables for 30 minutes, until very soft.
  10. Spoon broth and vegetables into a food processor. Purée until very smooth. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to process in 2 batches.
  11. Pour puréed pumpkin back into pot. (At this point, pumpkin soup can be set aside, stored or frozen until ready to serve. When ready to serve, thaw or reheat pumpkin over low flame, stirring occasionally to keep purée from scorching.)
  12. Stir in cream and milk in any proportion you like—I like more cream. Heat for 1-2 more minutes.
  13. Ladle into tureen or bowls and serve. At Copywriters’ Kitchen we like to accompany this soup with Crunchy Oven-Toasted Croutons.
  14. Serves 8.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Haring December 21, 2009 at 6:34 am

I want to try this for Christmas Dinner starter with some cheese squash given to me by a good friend. At what point do you add the sugar, it is not mentioned in the steps? With the squash just before adding the broth, or later? thanks.

Lorraine Thompson December 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

Hi Phil:

This soup will make a festive starter.

Stir in the sugar when you add the broth. And thanks for noting my omission–I will correct it today!

Melodie February 22, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Thanks for this suggestion. It looks like the winner for dinner tonight! I will substitute coconut milk for the dairy – I think it will be good.

Lorraine Thompson February 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Hi Melodie:

I love coconut milk but never thought to use it in this recipe. Bet it’s delicious with the curry–I’ll try it next time I make this soup.

Cora February 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Made this tonight for dinner (1.5 times the amounts above) with half the 10-pound Long Island Cheese pumpkin that came in my CSA share last week. I didn’t read carefully enough and added all the spices at once, but otherwise followed the recipe as written and it was delicious. I did use coconut milk, rather than cow milk, since we have a dairy allergy in the house. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Thanks!

leeesuh September 18, 2010 at 12:04 pm

these pumpkins are truly awesome! my coworker grew one & I just made this soup w a few adjustments. First, they are super easy to peel with a hand peeler, this is how i peel my butternut squash as well. Second, I don’t like sweet soups, so I omitted the sugar, added 4-5 fresh or dried whole scotch bonnet hot peppers, a few fresh tomatoes, and added salt & pepper at the end. then I have a $5 hand blender that I whip the soup right in the pot, and this soup was truly CREAMY! even w/out the cream. Delicious!!

Lorraine Thompson September 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm

@Leesuh How lucky you are to have a coworker who supplies you with cheese pumpkins. Your spicy variation of this soup sounds delish.

Mary. September 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Dismas Family Farm of OAKHAM, MA is harvesting Cheesewheels in September. Their available at the Westboro Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, 12-6 pm and at Weston Nursery Farmers Market on Fridays. Dismas Family Farm is listed in the White Pages.

mp October 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I bought a cheese squash at my local farm, not knowing what to do with it. The name just sounded fascinating. Can’t wait to try this recipe this weekend for guests. Thanks for the great coconut milk suggestion. Have a dairy allergy and was going to use rice or almond milk but the coconut will complement the curry well!

Lorraine Thompson October 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

@MP: Hope your soup turned out well. I also use Cheese Pumpkin in this pasta recipe:

Amanda Bevill October 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Nice blog! Had a similarly enchanting encounter with a cheese pumpkin at the market over the weekend. Can;t wait to try it!

Michael Bailey September 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm

These are awesome!!! We had a tremendous plant come up in our compost!!!! Set for the winter, the vine is full of these beauties!!

Lorraine Thompson September 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm

@Michael How lucky you are to have a cropful of these delicious pumpkins–they also make superb pies and pumpkin bread. Recipe for latter coming soon!

Ana Hotaling November 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm

We got a beautiful, large Long Island Cheese from our CSA and used it as part of our home’s Halloween decor this fall. Today, my 6 year old and I spent two hours seeding and de-gutting it, and we are only halfway done! It’s a LARGE pumpkin. I’d planned to make my traditional holiday squash soup with it, but I stumbled across your recipe while checking Google to see if the LI Cheese was a spaghetti-style squash (very thready inside). Your soup will be dinner for us tomorrow. Thanks!

Lorraine Thompson November 6, 2012 at 3:53 am

@Ana: LI cheese Pumpkins are so pretty–I’m sure your Halloween display was lovely. And I hope you enjoyed the recipe. I love your website–what a wonderful Green Acres back story! If you’re on Twitter, check out @NYFarmer, a dairy farmer and farm advocate from upstate NY. She recently started learning cheese making and might be a good connection apropos of your desire to start making goat cheese.

terri November 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Thank you so much for such a great “cheese” pumkin recipe. I also enjoyed learning about the history of the pumkin. I have made this three times and have passed it on to friends. It is such a warming soup for this time of year. I used maple syrup instead of sugar and it tasted so yummy. I also used this pumpkin for “pumpkin pie” and it was so delicious. Thanks for sharing.

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