Recipe: Sweet Pumpkin Porridge with Rice balls & Red beans

While I don’t typically dive into steaming hot bowls of sweet pumpkin soup, I just might make an exception today. And, if I did, I just might use one of those rice balls as a floaty. No judgments, please. I just like pumpkin a whole lot.

The unusual thing about this soup is not how sweet it is, or even the fact that there’s rice balls in it (that’s not much different than a dumpling) – it’s that there’s a scoop of sweet red beans lurking at the bottom of the bowl, waiting for the unsuspecting diner to slurp and nibble and glump.

Glump? Sure. That’s exactly what sweet red beans are like. In the best possible way, of course.

So, let’s take ourselves deep into the heart of Korea. Perhaps on the first snowfall, when freezing freckles of snow just barely stick to the ground. It’s the best time to saddle up to a bowl of sweet pumpkin soup.

Tumen River. China is on this side of the bridge, North Korea on the far side. Photo by Farm.

Recipe inspired by Aeri’s Kitchen.

Serves 6


5 cups of steamed pumpkin (from a 3-5 lb pumpkin)
5 cups water, or as needed
1/8 cup Sweet Rice Flour (available at Korean and Asian markets)
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Sweet Rice balls:

1 cup sweet rice flour
water, as needed (about 1/3 cup)


Black sesame seeds, as desired


Have you ever actually used an ordinary pumpkin for anything besides carving? Perhaps for pie? It’s time to get brave. Now is the season. You can thank North Korea later.

Cut the pumpkin into strips, remove seeds, and steam until tender, about 30 minutes. I used my giant pasta pot with insert to fit all the pieces. When the pumpkin is soft and slightly cooled, scoop the flesh into a blender until you get about five cups. 

Blend pumpkin with water, 1/8 cup of sweet rice flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Pour the smooth mixture into a pot, bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so lumps do not form.

Meanwhile, make the rice balls by mixing the flour with water until you can shape into dumplings. I made them the size of a tablespoon, but that was way too big (unless you like chasing slippery rice balls around soup bowls in an effort to cut them up). Next time I’ll go for teaspoon sized dumplings.


Simmer them in the soup until floating and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir them as soon as you put them in to prevent sticking to the bottom.

To serve, simply spoon some sweet red beans into the bottom of each bowl…

… and ladle on the golden pumpkin soup… garnishing with black sesame seeds, if desired. Is it me, or do those rice balls look like egg yolks? Or, better yet, a bowl of sunshine.

Either way, it’s good stuff.

Down the last drop. Especially if you enjoy it under the shadow of a great mountain.

Pohyon Temple near Mount Myohyang, dates from 1042. Photo by David Stanley.

Have a sweet, pumpkiny day!

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  1. To accompany this, here are flowers in a park in Pyongyang, courtesy of the official North Korean Youtube channel.

  2. Jessica Bennett says:

    Interesting. I’ll add it to my recipe list for this season- I love trying new things with pumpkin- especially soup. And they do look like egg yolks.

    By the way, what did Mr. Picky think of the kimchi?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Great! I hope you get to try it. As for your question ha ha… The kimchi was a bit of a stretch.. I’ll let him get on here at tell you (it’ll be later, he’s at work now).

  3. Totes thought those rice balls were yolks at first! Looks delicious.

  4. Hi, this looks delicious! I had a quick question – do the rice balls get cooked at all, or are they simply put into the soup at the end in their original state?

  5. Wow! Looks so tasty. A must try recipe from your blog. Got to try this one. Thanks for sharing this to us.

  6. Is this a main course or dessert?…all that sugar has me confused :)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Great question, Shauna. It’s more of a dessert to my tastes, though it would make a nice (sweet) breakfast, too!

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