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Pie, Oh My!
Pie, Oh My!

West Indian Pumpkin Soup Colombo

Norman Van Aken, All Rights Reserved, 2000

Yield: 6 (makes 10 cups)

The capital of Sri Lanka is Colombo, and this dish got its name from the indentured Sri Lankan field workers who brought it with them to their new homes on Trinidad and Tobago. The major spice in this stew is curry, another transplant from the subcontinent.

For the pumpkin:

2 pounds West Indian (calabaza) pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (you can substitute any other winter squash)

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 Cup sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the stew:

1/4 Cup pure olive oil

1 large Spanish onion, roughly chopped

1/2 Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons peeled and minced ginger

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1/4 Cup Madras curry powder

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves, broken in half

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

6 Cups Chicken Stock

1/4 Cup heavy cream

1/4 Cup unsweetened coconut milk

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the garnish:

2 Granny Smith apples

1 Cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), lightly toasted (see page 9)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the pumpkin and sweet potatoes with the melted butter, sugar, salt, and pepper. Put the squash in a roasting pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, or until translucent and soft. Add the Scotch bonnet, garlic, and ginger and sauté for another minute. Stir in the orange zest, curry powder, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, for another minute.

When the curry becomes fragrant and the mixture begins to resemble a paste, add the roasted pumpkin and sweet potatoes, including any pan juices, and stir to coat well.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. In a blender, puree the soup in batches, then return it to the pot. Stir in the cream and coconut milk. Reheat gently over low heat; do not boil.

Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and cut into small dice.

Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the apples and pepitas, and serve.

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Norman Van Aken has been described as legendary, visionary and a trailblazer. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.