Paukena and Karengo soup

Winter, I have heard so much about how refreshing it is to see snow, see frost and how everyone loves wearing their favourite jackets. Somehow my body misses the point of winter, and my mind is also a bit slower at thawing out. On the plus side, I enjoy heavier kai, garlic planting, Matariki, renewing my vision, and not having such a big garden to tend; the plus side seems to be one-sided.

Winter at Kākano Café, our new venture in city centre, Otautahi, showed itself in force this year with dreary days but a quiet time to reflect on our focus, healthy kai, people, whenua, and relationships. After opening in February to an awesome introduction to our community, I realise that seasons play an important part of our general hauora/health. We need time to plan, prepare, and get into a new synch – mind, body, and soul. Our outward manifestation of body slows down and we often find ourselves less active and motivated.

Our Tipuna knew that Matariki was the best time to reassess ourselves and to plan accordingly. We have run a series of workshops about planting and planning our māra kai, teaching about what to plant in winter and how our soil needs extra love and attention. After lots of our hui and mahi, we ended with a hearty winter soup which I hope you enjoy in our last days of winter. As we prepare for Koanga/Spring I like to think about the weekly steps I like to aspire to by preparing my body and maara so that I can gradually ease into a faster pace; it is here we can still absorb and listen to the season as it also transforms.

Nā Jade Temepara


Prep time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: 6


1 paukena (pumpkin), large
4 onions, diced
2 vegetable bulions (stock cubes)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tins coconut cream
12 cups water
Salt and pepper to season
1-4 tsp karengo to garnish
OPTIONAL: Add curry or paprika for an extra kick


1. Bring paukena to the boil in a large pot with onions, water, garlic and 2 vegetable bullions. Boil for 10 minutes then reduce to a simmer.
2. Simmer for an hour and check regularly that the paukena is not sticking to the bottom of the pot, and that the paukena is softening.
3. Once the vegetables are soft enough to mash, tip most of the liquid off and mash/whizz the paukena, onion and garlic till a smooth consistency is reached.
4. Add coconut cream, salt, and pepper to taste. For extra flavours, add curry and paprika. Bring to a slow simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Serve into bowls and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with karengo.


An easy method to cut paukena is to cut your paukena in half and microwave it for several minutes on high with a bit of water.