Cooking Polish food in Poland is easy. Injecting international flavours into your everyday cooking is a little bit harder. Combining the two without having to trek across the city to the local Alma for a few leaves of coriander (if you’re lucky) is near impossible.
Those of us who grew up in the US or Canada will always link the autumn months to nostalgic holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween. Learning how to carve a pumpkin is practically a rite of passage for North American kids. Luckily, finding pumpkins in Polish markets is becoming increasingly easy. Dynia, as they’re called in Polish, actually refers to all types of squash, so let’s make a comforting autumnal treat of pumpkin soup, Polish-style.
1 small pumpkin, squash, or whatever you can find at your local market
500ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
500ml milk (or half milk and half, 30% smietanka)
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Put your jack-o-lantern training to good use by scooping out the seeds and stringy bits from the pumpkin or squash. Chop into rough chunks, drizzle with olive oil (and honey if you like it a little sweet) and roast in the oven at 220C for 30 minutes, or until golden and tender. Scoop out the soft flesh from the skin and leave aside. Fry the onion in a large pot on medium until soft, but not brown, add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the nutmeg and some chilli powder if you want to give your soup a little kick.
Cover with the hot stock and pumpkin flesh, bringing the mixture to a boil. Add a splash of water if the mixture seems too dry – you’re aiming for a nice wet mush. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully blend the soup to a smooth consistency using an immersion (stick) blender. Return the soup to a simmer and slowly incorporate the milk and/or cream. Salt and pepper to taste.
For vegan-friendly pumpkin soup, swap the milk for coconut milk. Meat fiends won’t go wrong by adding a handful of bacon bits. Top with toasted hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds. Or go full-on Polish and throw in some chopped dill and a scoop of sour cream. Delicious!