If there’s one food Australians love, it is pumpkin. 

Ethiopian Pumpkin Soup
Ethiopian Pumpkin Soup

Not like this.  This is just creepy….

Found on Modern Mechanix

But unlike our American pals who like to eat their pumpkins for dessert, for us it is sadly almost always served savoury as a vegetable.  Just incidentally though, Australia, why don’t we have pumpkin pie?  We get all the trashy American stuff – the Kardashians and ice bucket challenges to name but a few.  Why can’t we get some of the yummy delicious pumpkin pie action too?

According to this, you don;t even have to cook it.  It’s MAGIC…

Pumpkin Dream Pie

Sadly for us, Pumpkin Dream Pie remains just that…

We eat pumpkin as a side for a roast, in lasagné’s risottos, salads and scones.  But more than eating pumpkin,  we love to drink it.

How much do we love to drink it? Pumpkin soup is a, no probably the Australian ubiquitous menu item –  just about every cafe, restaurant, pub bistro and hole in the wall has their own version prominently displayed on the menu – I go to a cafe where it has been the soup du jour for at least five years. 

Out of curiosity  I had a little look on taste.com.au for pumpkin soup recipes. There are 79 of them.  Ok, so it’s not the 765 recipes they have for chocolate cake but 79 variations on a theme of pumpkin is still quite a number.  There are recipes for Classic Pumpkin Soup, Creamy Pumpkin Soup, Perfect Pumpkin Soup and Smashing Pumpkin Soup (I guess that’s the soup that despite all it’s rage is still just a rat in a cage). 

I did start to notice a trend though -not only do we love our pumpkin soup but we like it to be a bit of a international bright young thing.  There are  recipes for:

Thai, Moroccan, non – specific Asian, Tortellini (Italian), Japanese, Thai again, Thai again again, Curry x 3, South Indian, Australian (whatever that maybe…I didn’t look, possibly flavoured with beer and vegemite), two more Thai’s.  The Americas are represented by one paltry entry for Maine Pumpkin soup.  But you  know what?  If I was given a choice between that soup, (even though it looks and sounds divine) and this:

Inspiration Kitchen’s Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Cheesecake

I wouldn’t be eating Pumpkin soup either.

Africa too is sadly missing from that list.  Ok, yes, Morocco is there but…jeez…(eyeroll), if you must be pedantic, sub-Saharan Africa  is completely missing.  Hopefully not for much longer…because it’s time this delicious Ethiopian Pumpkin Soup adapted from Diana Henry’s Plenty  took the stage!

This is gorgeous to look at, the inclusion of tomato paste and the Berbere spices gives it a real 1970’s burnt orange colour.  It’s really tasty too – slightly sweet from the pumpkin, slightly smoky from the spices, slightly spicy from the chilli and cinnamon and ginger.  If you leave out the yoghurt garnish it is also vegan.  

Ethiopian Pumpkin Soup2
Ethiopian Pumpkin Soup 2

And, whilst I don’t want to blow my own trump….actually, no, wait, it’s my blog, I can blow whatever I damn well want! The Berbere pepitas and pinenuts which were my own invention were amazing!  They add some additional spice and salt and crunch.  The only problem with these is that they are so good you will be hard pressed to save any for the soup.  I had to make about three or four batches of them because we kept eating them before they could be used as the soup garnish.  They are seriously good!  

Berbere Roasted Pepitas and Pinenuts
Berbere Roasted Pepitas and Pinenuts

The key to this soup is the Berbere spice mix.  I bought mine but you can make your own.  There are about a thousand of these on the interwebs, each of which is slightly different. I have included the recipe for Berbere given in Diana Henry’s book below.

Berbere Spice Mix
Berbere Spice Mix

 Either way you’re going to end up with a lot more Berbere than you need to make this one recipe.  Of course you could make the soup more than once and you will surely make the Berbere Pepitas and Pinenuts more than once but if you want to experiment a bit more with this spice blend you can also try these:

Doro Wat  – Ethiopian Red Chicken Stew

Berbere Lamb Chops With Lentil Cucumber Salad

Ethiopian Ful Medames

Enjoy and Have a great week!    

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Ethiopian Pumpkin Soup with Berbere Pepitas and Pinenuts

Ethiopian Pumpkin Soup with Berbere Pepitas and Pinenuts


    For the berbere:
  • 2tsp cumin seeds
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 8 small dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp groundpinch of turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • For the soup:
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5cm fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 750g pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp salt
  • To Serve:
  • Greek yogurt (omit or substitute soy yoghurt if vegan)
  • Fresh coriander
  • For the Berbere Pepitas and Pinenuts:
  • 1 tsp Berbere spice mix
  • 1/4 cup Pepita and Pinenut mix (or other nut mix of your choice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt


    To make the berbere:
  • Toast the first seven spices in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Shake the pan often. Cool, then grind in a pestle and mortar with the rest of the spices until you have a fine powder.
  • To make the soup:
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion until soft and pale gold. Add the ginger and 2 tsp of the berbere and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the pumpkin and stir until well covered with the spices, then add the tomato puree, salt and 500ml water.
  • Stir, cover and bring to the boil.
  • Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Cool and use a stick blender or potato masher to puree the mixture until smooth. You may leave some chunks of pumpkin whole - I prefer my soup to be smooth.
  • To make the Berbere Pepitas and Pinenuts:
  • Mix the nuts with the spice mix, salt and olive oil. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Pour the mixture onto the tray and spread out. Roast for 10 minutes in a medium until the nuts are golden and fragrant.
  • To Serve:
  • Warm the soup if necessary. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  • Garnish with yoghurt, coriander and the Berbere Pepitas and Pinenuts.