Pumpkins are plentiful in Azerbaijan from late summer to early winter and are popular in soups, pilafs and kutabi.
Pumpkin soup (balqabaq şorbası) is a tasty, warming dish that can be made thicker by increasing the quantity of rice.
Preparation time: 30 min
Cooking time: 30 min
1 kg/2.2 lbs pumpkin
100 g/4 oz short-grained rice
75 g/3 oz butter
150 g/6 oz onion
Peel the pumpkin (the Swiss-style “Y” peelers are ideal for this) and cut into cubes.
Just cover the cubes with water or stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes or until soft.
When the pumpkin is cooked, remove the pieces from the pan and mash.
Return the mashed pumpkin to the pan of water and add the rice and salt.
Bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the rice is cooked.
While the pumpkin and rice are cooking, fry the onions in butter and add a pinch of salt.
Once the rice is cooked, add the onion to the soup and stir well.
Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with pomegranate seeds (optional) and chopped coriander or parsley.
Have granulated sugar as a condiment on the table as well as salt. If the pumpkin is not very sweet, adding a sprinkle of sugar to the soup will help bring out the flavour.