A pumpkin soup! Yes, but there are so many! Today we are headed to Botswana!
The local culture of Botswana is multiethnic. It is the result of the different waves of migration that have taken place over the centuries. The evidence lies in the linguistic diversity. Indeed, no less than twenty languages are spoken throughout the country. There are different ethnic groups, among which the most important is the Tswana.
The traditional cuisine of all these ethnic groups is extremely simple, but delicious and authentic. Some dishes, which are almost unknown in the Western world, are true treasures of tradition in some small villages that offer real delights for the palate, thanks to the link with the past that has been preserved. In big cities, in addition to typical Botswana dishes, you can also find international dishes.
Botswana’s cuisine is strongly influenced by British culture, a legacy of past colonization. The breakfast is typically English, with the habit of drinking tea in the afternoon. The cuisine of the country is also based on meat, including game, antelope, ostrich or kudu cooked like an English roast beef.
The main courses in Botswana are mainly beef and goat meat with a wide use of cereals such as maize, sorghum and rice. Among the most popular vegetables are sweet potatoes and tomatoes, while among the fruits, the melon is favored.
In all the cuisines around the world, there are a multitude of soups that are the pride of the country where they were born. Think about the bouillabaisse in France, hot and sour soup in China, harira in Morocco, chorba in Algeria, the dovga in Azerbaijan, gazpacho in Spain, minestrone in Italy, or revithia in Greece … In short there are so many!
But what do we know about soups?
The discovery of fire is probably the most extraordinary discovery in human history. And soup appeared as soon as the man discovered fire. He could finally use the water to boil his food. It is estimated that soup is the first real dish ever invented by man. The origins of the first known soup date back to 6000 BC, and it was a hippopotamus soup!
The word soup comes from the lower Latin suppa which means “to soak”, from the Francic suppa, from the French sope (which becomes “soup”), from the Germanic supon which means “to season”, from the Dutch sopen which means “to soak”, from the Indo-European su-po which in Sanskrit means “well-fed”. The soup then refers to the slice of bread that is soaked in a hot liquid: broth, milk, sauces or gravy.
In the Middle Ages, the lords used to eat meat and other foods on large slices of bread, which in practice replaced the dishes. At the end of the meal, the bread leftovers, soaked with condiments, meat and other foods, were given to the servants who put them in a pot with vegetables and water to obtain a soup. One thing is certain: soup is definitely a dish of popular origin.
Different categories of soups
Soups go by different names, according to their method of preparation and their ingredients:
– Cream: made from boiled vegetables, pureed and then bound with a variable amount of cream.
– Consommé: a clear broth, defatted and sometimes clarified with egg white. It can be garnished or flavored with other foods.
– Bisque: a velouté, but prepared with a crustacean as a star ingredient.
– Broth: the cooking liquid of meat, poultry, vegetables, fish or seafood. It is the basis of most soups.
– Velouté: consommé worked with butter using a white roux, giving a smooth and creamy soup. It is traditionally tied to egg yolk and cream.
Soups have long been the food of the people but over time, because they have improved to become real delights, they have reached all the tables.
Anecdotally, historian Otto Eduard Neugebauer is said to have written that the first full sentence uttered by Albert Einstein when he was a child was: “The soup is too hot”. He was then 7 years old and it was the first time he really spoke. His parents, surprised, asked him why he had never spoken before. Little Einstein’s answer seems to have been rather exhaustive and already brilliant for the age: “Because until now, everything was fine”!
Let’s go back to our pumpkin soup!
Pumpkin is an widely consumed vegetable in Botswana and it is cooked in all forms both savory and sweet. Another popular dish in the country is lephutshi (pumpkin in local dialect). It is composed of pumpkin roasted in a pan with butter, and flavored with cinnamon.
Origins of the pumpkin soup in Botswana
While browsing the web, I discovered the adventures of Mma Ramotswe, director of Botswana’s No. 1 agency for women detective. Mma Ramotswe’s investigations are a series of detective novels written by Scottish novelist Alexander McCall Smith, based in Botswana, depicting a detective named Precious Ramotswe, familiarly known as Mma Ramotswe. She seems to always care about the growth of her dear pumpkins and then their cooking. She also enjoys great cakes with pumpkin and pecan.
Let’s talk about pumpkin, squash, butternut and other cucurbits. There are more than 800 species, between fruits and vegetables, edible or not, and watermelon and melon are among them.
Pumpkin comes from the Latin pepo and the Greek pepon, meaning big round melon. The cucurbita pepo species was reportedly domesticated in northern Mexico 10,000 years ago, making squash one of the first cultivated plants in the world.
Pumpkin health benefits
It is primarily a very low calorie food, which is packed with vitamins, especially vitamin A, that can help have a smooth skin. Yes, it contains very valuable antioxidants that actively fight the aging of the skin! Rich in potassium, it is excellent for the regulation of blood pressure and is an ideal ally against hypertension. It is also very effective in preventing kidney stones.
While preparing this soup, I confess that I was highly intrigued by the combination of green apple and cumin. I have only one word to say: delicious!
- 1 small pumpkin (4-5 lb/2-2,5kg)
- 1 potato
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 onions , diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 cups hot water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cubes vegetable bouillon (or chicken bouillon)
- 2 small green apples , peeled and seeded
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pinch ground chili pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried sage (or 1 sprig fresh sage)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme)
- 1 cinnamon stick (or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon)
- Freshly ground pepper
- Chop the vegetables coarsely.
- Dissolve bouillon cubes in hot water.
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onions. Add the garlic.
- Stir and cook 3 minutes.
- Add the ground chili pepper, cumin and paprika and stir for one minute.
- Add broth and mix well.
- Add all remaining ingredients. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.
- Remove cinnamon stick and mix with hand blender or blender.