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Soup’s on – A Tribute to Our New African Heritage Diet Pyramid

November 11, 2011

We are always involved with exciting food issues here at Oldways and the past months have been no exception, as we prepared for the introduction of our new African Heritage Diet Pyramid.  If you haven’t heard about our latest pyramid, I invite you to take a look at our website.  The African Heritage Diet is a way of eating based on the healthy traditional diets of people with African roots. Whether you want to follow the culinary traditions of the American South, the Caribbean, South America or Africa, you can use the African Heritage Diet Pyramid as a guide to enjoy the foods and dishes that make this way of eating so very healthy and delicious!

As you can imagine, there was extensive research and planning necessary to ensure the project was a success.  One component of this research happened to be developing and testing the African Heritage recipes that are now on our website for all to enjoy.  So twist my arm – I had to help!

Since it’s fall, I was happy to take home my assignment of a pumpkin soup, a traditional Afro-Caribbean dish.  Apparently several varieties of pumpkin grow in the Caribbean, and the most widely used is the calabaza.  I chose a regular jack-o-lantern pumpkin for my soup but also read that a butternut squash is a great substitute to keep in mind.  No matter which squash suits your fancy this soup screams fall, and is a way to embrace traditional healthy heritage dishes and enjoy a belly-warming and satisfying soup!

I have made the soup a few times now. My favorite version, below, increases some of the spices for an extra kick.

Soup Ingredients:
2-3 tablespoons butter (or neutral flavored extra virgin coconut oil)
1 large onion peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (or ground)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons spicy curry powder
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 lbs. fresh pumpkin or winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 pint of low-sodium vegetable stock
½ pint fat-free evaporated milk, added at the end (to avoid curdling)
1 tablespoon of minced parsley or cilantro for garnish


Saute the onions and garlic until onions are translucent, then add ginger and other spices and cook for a minute. Add pumpkin, potatoes and carrots along with the stock, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Puree the soup with a stick blender. Add the milk. Garnish with a little minced parsley or cilantro. Enjoy!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura Dunkley permalink
    November 18, 2011 9:16 pm

    I don’t know about Africans but no one from the Caribbean would add milk to a pumpkin soup. Traditionally, this is a meal in itself often served for lunch on Saturday and is made from calabaza, chicken noodle soup mix, (I substitue low sodium chicken stock), carrots, chayote, yam, cassava, potatoes, sometimes corn on the cob, chicken or beef and seasoning. The most popular seasonings include fresh thyme, hot pepper (in Jamaica, a whole scotch bonnet) and flour dumplings. Traditional pumpkin soup starts with making a chicken or beef stock and adding the chicken or beef stock to intensify the flavor. Potatoes are added early in the process as they are used as a thickening agent, and the other vegetables and starches later in the process. Dumplings are added at the end. For a recipe, feel free to email me at the address below. BTW, been drinking this soup for the last 50 years or so.

    • November 21, 2011 10:39 am


      Thank you for your comment and for reaching out. We are contacting you directly about your recipe as we would love to see what your traditional soup recipe includes. Thanks again and have a wonderful day!

  2. November 25, 2011 4:32 pm

    An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!

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