Mamma’s roast pumpkin (maungu) soup

Recipe by Ellie Kisyombe, Ellie’s Kitchen Home Edition, Issue 01

In Malawi, maungu (pumpkin) is a staple food even though it’s grown seasonally. It’s a reliable food source, so we Malawians eat it at breakfast, brunch and dinner. It’s also a trendy street food.

My favourite maungu soup recipe is one my mamma used to make. It’s super creamy and gently spiced. My mother fed us lots of maungu using many different recipes. All credit to her! My siblings and I loved our maungu. We were so lucky because our mother owned a farm and we had so many to choose from. She always knew the best way to cook them.

Here in Ireland, where it’s called pumpkin, I always pick mine up from Smithfield Market. This is the best place to get fresh pumpkins. The ones I use are Brazilian and their texture is filling and very tasty. I love them as they remind me of the organic, creamy pumpkins we got from my mother’s farm.

Serves 2–4

1 large (2kg) pumpkin (Ellie uses Brazilian pumpkins that she gets from Smithfield Market in Dublin)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp coconut oil (or 3 tbsp olive)

1 tbsp finely chopped white onion

1 tbsp finely chopped garlic

a pinch of salt

a pinch of your preferred dried herbs or spices (optional)

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

½ small glass of water

1 tbsp light brown sugar


To garnish:

finely diced cooked beetroot 


Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper for easy clean-up.

Wash your pumpkin thoroughly, then pat it dry with a kitchen towel ­– there’s no need to remove the skin at this stage. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. You can roast the seeds if you like – you don’t need them for this recipe. Cut the pumpkin in half again so that you have four large wedges.

Brush or rub the tablespoon of olive oil all over the flesh of the pumpkin, then put the wedges on the baking sheet, cut sides down. Roast in the preheated oven for 45–60 minutes, until the flesh is easily pierced through with a fork. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Heat the coconut oil (or the 3 tbsp olive oil) in a large pot set over a high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion, garlic and salt. You can also add a pinch of your favourite dried herbs or spices here too ­– I occasionally use garlic powder. Stir to combine.

Add the coconut milk and water and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8–10 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cook for another 2 minutes. Keep stirring!

Using a metal spoon, gently scoop the pumpkin out of its skin and into the pot. Set the skin aside if, like me, want to use them later. Mix everything gently.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the flavours time to blend together.

Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly. Blend the soup until smooth. I prefer to use my stand blender, which gives the creamiest results, but a hand-held blender works well too.

Transfer the puréed soup to a serving bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. I think the soup is just right as it is, but you might want to add more coconut milk for extra creaminess and a milder flavour.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and sprinkle some chopped beetroot into each bowl. Karibu Kwani!

Tip: Let any leftover soup cool completely before transferring it to a proper storage container and refrigerating it for up to four days. The leftovers taste even better the next day. Or you can freeze this soup for up to three months.

Watch Ellie cook this soup on YouTube:

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