Kurpian Pumpkin Soup with Cream and Potato Dumplings

Jednorojski Malón z Rejbakami

Malón* is a regional Pumpkin Soup from the leafy region of Kurpie, in the northern part of Mazovia.

Like many regional Polish dishes, this soup originates from peasants and farmers who simply used the ingredients they had available – in this case, pumpkins, fresh cream and potatoes. 

These veggies would be turned into a rich, comforting, and super-flavourful pumpkin cream; served with small Rejbaki potato dumplings.

If you’re looking for a real taste of Polish autumn, it’s a recipe for you.

*Malón is also a local term for ‘pumpkin’.

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

In “Food of Kurpies people. Food and drink: everyday, ceremonial and in time of fast”(1) Adam Chętnik writes:

“For breakfast, Kurpie dwellers make a sweet soup out of it [the pumpkin, addition mine]. They peel the pumpkin, cut it into pieces, then cook in water until it softens into the pulp. Then they cover it with millet or wheat dumplings. They also add milk; for kids, they add sugar.” 

Rejbaki are small potato dumplings – not to be confused with Rejbak, a Kurpian version of a Potato Babka. Both terms originate from the same verb “rejbować”, which means: grating potatoes. The term probably stemmed from the German “reiben”, meaning “grate”.

💡 Interesting fact: In 2017, this comforting soup was listed on the “Traditional Products” list of the Ministry of Agriculture under the name of “Jednorojski malón – zupa z dyni z Jednorożca”.

Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Pumpkin soup?

Luckily – no, everything should be easily available in any major supermarket.

Pumpkin: Avoid the ginormous jack-o-lantern ones. While they look cool, often are quite stringy and watery inside. Get a smaller pie pumpkin instead (also known as ‘sugar pumpkin’)

Potatoes for dumplings: It’s best to use the starchy kind. When I’ve made an attempt with waxy potatoes, the dumplings simply fell apart.

In the US, aim for Russet, Idaho and Yukon; while in Poland, any “C”-type potato works well. If your potatoes aren’t naturally starchy, you won’t be able to retrieve enough starch from them. If that’s the case, just add 2 tablespoons of potato starch (powder), potato flour or cornmeal.

In terms of the tools, you’ll need:

  • Box grater or food processor (with a shredding disc); for grating potatoes
  • Immersion (stick) blender or food processor; for puréeing
  • Thin, clean kitchen cloth, cheesecloth or muslin square, for draining the potatoes

Plus all the usual kitchen gear, such as pots, bowls etc.

What should you serve with this pumpkin soup?

Thanks to its thick consistency (and the potato dumplings), this soup is already quite filling on its own merit. But if you’re hosting a hungry crowd, it pairs wonderfully with fresh bread or baguette for dunking.

Fell free to swap the potato dumplings to another topping of your choice: croutons, potatoes, kluski noodles

Can you make this pumpkin soup another way?

Yes, you can:

Change the cooking method:
I find that roasting in the oven improves the pumpkin flavour quite a bit – that’s why I suggest this method in the instructions below. But in the original recipe, the pumpkin is cooked on the stove with half a cup of water, for half an hour (until soft). Feel free to use any of these methods.

Spice it up:
In this recipe, I’m showing you a very traditional version of this soup. If you would like to change things up, try one of the following suggestions:

  • Add ginger: Peel a small piece of ginger root, and finely chop enough to fill one tablespoons-worth. Saute it gently with half a tablespoon of butter and add it to the soup right before pureeing.
  • Add more spices: 1.5 teaspoons of ground cumin or smoked paprika really lifts the flavour up. For some extra kick,  stir in half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

What diets is this pumpkin soup suitable for?

This recipe is gluten-free. If you decide to use vegetable stock, it will be suitable for vegetarians as well.

How long can you keep this pumpkin soup in the fridge?

Malón tastes best when enjoyed hot. Once served, don’t keep it out for more than 3-4 hours.

Refrigerate any leftovers in a container (with a lid) for up to 3 days.

Can I freeze this soup?

Yes, you can, but I recommend freezing the soup separately from the dumplings.

To freeze the soup, let it cool completely. Once the leftovers are at room temperature, pour them into a freezer-friendly container. It is worth using smaller containers and freezing each portion separately. Label with a description and a date. Consume within 3 months.

To freeze the dumplings, arrange them in a single layer on a tray and place the tray in the freezer. Freeze for 3 hours, until solid. After that time it’s safe to move the frozen dumplings into a freezer-friendly bag.

How do I reheat this soup?

From chilled: Pour the soup into a microwave-friendly container. Cover it loosely with a lid. Heat for 4 to 7 minutes until hot throughout. Stir before serving.

From frozen: Thaw the soup overnight. Pour it into a microwave-friendly container, cover with a lid and reheat for 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully remove the soup from the microwave and stir. Continue cooking for another 3 to 5 minutes, until hot throughout. These times could be reduced if you’re reheating a smaller portion of course. Stir well before you serve.

Alternatively, you could reheat this soup on the stove. Bring it to a near boil, then reduce the heat to a medium-low and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

Na zdrowie!

Creamy Kurpian Pumpkin Soup (regional Polish recipe)
Kurpian Pumpkin Soup - regional Polish soup

Kurpian Pumpkin Soup with Cream and Potato Dumplings

Yield: 6-7
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

For the soup

  • 4 lb (1.8 kg) pumpkin; harder type, e.g. sugar pumpkin
  • 1 medium onion; white or yellow
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • olive oil, or greasing
  • ½ cup (120 ml) stock or broth; chicken or veg
  • 1 cup cream (230 ml); half & half, single or light cream, 12-20% fat
  • pinch of salt; for seasoning
  • pinch of black pepper, freshly ground; for seasoning

For 'Rejbaki' dumplings

  • 2.2 lb (1 kg) large potatoes; starchy type (important!)
  • 4-5 tablespoons potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil; can replace with olive oil
  • salt

Garnish (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves, freshly chopped; for garnish
  • a handful of pumpkin or sesame seeds; for garnish

Instructions

Roasting the pumpkin

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds. (They can be saved for roasting)
  3. Cut the pumpkin further into thick slices (roughly sized at 1.2-1.5’’, 3-4 cm thick)
  4. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil or parchment paper, grease it with olive oil. 
  5. Place the pumpkin slices on a tray, flesh side facing downwards. 
  6. Peel the onion, cut into quarts and add to the tray. Peel garlic cloves and add them whole to the tray.
  7. Roast the vegetables for 40-45 minutes, until the pumpkin turns soft. 


Making 'Rejbaki' dumplings

As we wait for the veggies to roast, let’s prep the dumplings:

  1. Peel the potatoes and grate them all. You can do so by hand - using the smallest holes of the grater - or using a food processor with a shredding disc.
  2. Move grated potatoes onto a thin, clean kitchen cloth (cheesecloth works too). Fold the ends up and over the potatoes, lift and press to squeeze the starchy liquid into a bowl. You can also squeeze the excess liquid by hand.
  3. Let’s retrieve the starch from the potato juice: Slowly pour the liquid into another bowl, without disturbing the starch that has settled at the bottom. You can discard the liquid but keep the starch. 
  4. Move grated potatoes into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons oil and that starch we've retrieved from the potato juice. Add additional 4-5 tablespoons of store-bought potato starch as well.
  5. (Testing) If it's your first time making these dumplings, it's worth doing a quick test: form one small dumpling (roughly the size of a small grape), drop it into salted boiling water and see what happens. If the dumpling disintegrates while cooking, that means your potatoes weren't starchy enough. Add more potato starch into the mass and test again.
  6. Form small dumplings (roughly the size of small grapes).
    raw potato dumplings
  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to medium and add half of the dumplings in. Wait until they start to float to the top and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
  8. Retrieve them with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Repeat the process with the rest of the dumplings. 
  9. Set the dumplings aside until we’re ready to serve the soup.


Making the soup

  1. Check the pumpkin for doneness -  just poke it with a fork - it should be tender. Remove the tray from the oven and set it aside, until the pumpkin is cool enough to handle.
  2. Scoop the flesh out of the pumpkin.
  3. Blend the pumpkin, onion, garlic and stock together, until creamy and smooth. You can do so using a food processor, but I just move everything directly into a saucepan and blend it with a hand-held immersion blender.
  4. [Optional step] Press the purée through a sieve to get rid of all the unwanted bits. Return soup to saucepan. 
  5. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a near boil, stirring continuously. Then, reduce the heat to the minimum.
  6. Pour in a cup of cream, stir it in and have a taste. If the flavour seems too mild, add a  pinch of cinnamon, smoked paprika powder and/or ground nutmeg. If the flavour seems too heavy, add a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to brighten it up.
  7. Serve with potato dumplings we have set aside, and garnish with freshly chopped parsley leaves.

Notes

This recipe is adapted from Zupa Malon by Mazowiecki Szlak Tradycji (Mazovian Culinary Path; recipe in Polish).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 216Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 369mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 6g

Sources:

  1. Pożywienie Kurpiów : jadło i napoje zwykłe, obrzędowe i głodowe” (“Food of Kurpies people.  Food and drink: everyday, ceremonial and in time of fast”) by Adam Chętnik. Full book available to view here. (Kraków 1936, p. 79-80) 
Kasia Kronenberger

Kasia Kronenberger is the founder of Polonist, where she celebrates Poland’s very best food.
She’s a self-taught home cook, who – through her own culinary attempts – wants to show you how to recreate Polish flavours at home, wherever that is.
About KasiaAbout Polonist

Cuisine: Polish
Region/Subregion: Mazovia Kurpie
Other names and misspellings: Zupa z Dyni z Jednorożca, Malun, Malon, Polish Pumpkin Soup