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This recipe is a classic from the countryside of Friuli. At one time pumpkins were planted between rows of corn. Their cultivation began right after their discovery in America and were easily integrated in the fields especially since they matured at the same time as the rest of the crops. Pumpkins were round small and dark green placed at the end of each row of corn. When they matured the inside was a yellow orange color with a floury and sweet flavor. Because corn and pumpkins were grown together it was natural for a recipe like “Zuf” to be born.

This soup has the consistency of a polenta and is eaten during breakfast. It was a hearty meal for the farmers before going out to work in the fields and something hot and sweet for the beginning of the first cold days. My father loved the Zuf that my grandma prepared almost every morning from the beginning of November until all the pumpkins were consumed. He ate it when it was scalding hot with freshly squeezed milk from our cows.

Every breakfast he tasted the first bite slowly to appreciate the fragrance of the pumpkin like sommelier do with a fine wine. He noted that the sweetness of the pumpkin and the back taste could vary from a chestnut flavor, (which he preferred), to an almond flavor. If it had a cucumber back taste that meant the pumpkin was not good. He could read in the simplicity of that dish if he had done a good job wit the crops. If he had used the right fertilizer or if he had watered the pumpkins at the right time, always taking notes for next years cultivation.

I didn’t like Zuf that much, I always found it too filling. However, last week I wanted to make it for my son and Colleen, to bring back a recipe almost forgotten in time. The experience was gratifying. This is a simple dish that is filling and appropriate in these times of economical crisis. Because this dish is soft and smooth, it is also appropriate for children and the elderly. If you have some leftovers Zuf can be eaten cold the day after accompanied by hot milk.

Preparation: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 90 minutes
(Makes 4 Servings)

1 ½ pounds of cleaned pumpkin, cut into small pieces
5 oz corn flour
2 tablespoons of Type 00 Flour
6 cups of water
2 sage leaves
1 cup of whole milk

  1. Add the pumpkin to a high walled pot with the water, salt, and sage leaves. Cover and bring to a boil. When the pumpkin is fork tender, it is ready. As soon as it is cooked, take out the sage leaves and mash it well with a fork.
  2. Mix the 2 flours and slowly add them to the pot, whisking so there are no lumps. Lower the heat and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.
  3. Serve hot in individual bowls with a small ladle of cold milk.

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