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
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!