Soppa tal-Qara Ahmar – Red Pumpkin Soup from Malta
This simple Maltese pumpkin dish employs a bit of semolina flour to transform from a basic soup into an ultra comforting porridge. While soppa tal-qara ahmar would typically be served with shaved parmesan and home-baked croutons, we think it would be equity satisfying served as a complement to braised short ribs, roasted meat or even a thick ragù, much in the way you might serve polenta or mashed potatoes.
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1.5 lbs. of pumpkin, cleaned out, peeled and diced
- 1 small can (170 g) of tomato paste
- 4 cups of water or stock of your choosing
- ⅓ cup of semolina flour
- Fresh-shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish / seasoning
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Croutons, preferably homemade
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium and cook the onions until soft and translucent, being careful not to burn them.
- Add the diced pumpkin to the pan, stirring frequently until it begins to soften, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring the broth or water to a boil.
- Add the tomato paste to the pumpkin and onions, cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomato / pumpkin mixture to the broth or water and let it boil together for 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes more, uncovered, until the pumpkin mashes easily with a fork.
- Use a hand mixer or blender to puree the soup until smooth. If you want a silkier texture, pass the soup through a sieve, then return it to the pot.
- Mix the semolina flour into the soup a bit at a time and, once well incorporated, cook over low heat for 10 minutes more.
- Check one last time for seasoning, adjusting if necessary, and serve the soppa tal-qara ahmar in individual bowls topped with croutons and fresh parsley, accompany with fresh-shaved parmesan on the side for people to add as they like.
Depending on where you shop, semolina flour might just be called semolina; what you are looking for is pale yellow in color and ground to the approximate consistency of sand. When it comes time to serve soppa tal-qara ahmar, you can serve it topped with Parmesan rather than on the side, just keep in mind that a little goes a long way with this particular recipe so be careful not to over-do it. Don't let the name, "red pumpkin soup," fool you, normal pumpkin is used to make soppa tal-qara ahmar, it just takes on a deeper color from the addition of tomato paste.