Kitchen Globetrotter: Poland // Zupa Z Dyni (Pumpkin Soup)

pumpkin soup

While living in China, a Polish friend and fellow teacher explained matter-of-factly to me that “Polish food is boring.”

“Well, not boring,” he backtracked, searching for a better word. “it’s just simple. The fish tastes like fish. The bread tastes like bread. We don’t use a lot of spices or seasonings to make things taste good.”

The word I’d propose to describe such minimalist fare is honest. The staples of the dishes taste like themselves; each one shines through on its own.

And so it is with this pumpkin soup: bright and sweet, its squashiness needs little adornment. I’ve seen a few variations—some with cinnamon and sugar, others with garlic and onion—but I kept this one free of everything but the basics. Consider it a template, open to what you’re craving and what’s already in your cabinets.

PS: If this “honest” style strikes your fancy, consider trying piafala as your next dessert or brunch adventure.

Zupa z Dyni: Polish Pumpkin Soup

Adapted from this recipe

Serves 8

1 (2 lb) pie pumpkin or other winter squash, peeled and cubed OR 2 (14 oz) cans pumpkin pure
1 carrot, peeled and grated IF using whole squash, not puree
4 c water
4 c vegetable stock
1 c half-and-half (I opted for lite coconut milk to make this vegan)
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine pumpkin, carrot, stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook over medium-low until vegetables are soft (between 40 minutes to 1 hour). If using canned pumpkin puree and no carrot, this will only take a few minutes.

If using cubed vegetables, transfer to a blender or food processor (in batches, if necessary) and puree until smooth. Return to saucepan.

Slowly add half-and-half to soup, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired

Serve alongside crusty bread or, for the traditional take, potato dumplings.

Polish readers! I’d love to hear about your favorite recipes!

P.S. Homemade junk food and Polish breakfast and beauty routines

Photos in maim collage by Leszek Kozlowski // Craig Wyzik // Claire Suellentrop 

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  1. Traci

    This sounds perfect to me! Simplicity can be best. I might add a little sweet & smoky paprika to this, but keep it at that. :]

  2. Eternal*Voyageur

    I'm Polish and I actually use this recipe with some small variations: I add a potato or two, a dash of vinegar, and a tiny bit of cinnamon. But I don't agree that Polish cuisine is boring, even though I'm vegetarian and so haven't experienced all the famous stuff with meat. Just think of Pierogi dumplings that come with every filling you can imagine, from sauerkraut, or mushrooms, to blueberries or cherries; cold cherry soup, Oscypek — the cheese that tastes liked smoked ham, fermented beet soup, ok I'm gonna stop because I'm making myself hungry.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I spent two weeks in Gdansk a few years ago and loooooved the salty, braided cheese!

  3. Part-Polska on the preairie

    My paternal grandparents came to Canada from Poland. Our family also enjoys Golabki (meat-and rice-filled cabbage rolls baked in a tomato sauce), Babka (sweet yeast bread with raisins), and Nalysnyky (cottage cheese-filled crepes, with a fruit sauce). We miss the Paczki (jam-fllled Polish yeast dough doughnuts) and other treats from the now-closed neighborhood Polish bakery. Hungry now??

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I love the vodka with buffalo grass + apple cider!

  4. Madou

    The best are pierogi and bigos and żurek and zupa ogórkowa and ogórki kiszone and prażone and serniczek (mmm, yummy!) and gołąbki and barszcz z uszkami and kluski śląskie and gulasz and leczo and oh my god i miss polish food sooooo much in France ;(
    my mum never made pumpkin soup, in fact it is not so popular in my region (i come from Oświęcim, quite nice town with a very sad history), and i made it for the first time in my life just few months ago 😉

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