Carbonada e Zapallo (Argentinian Beef Stew in a Roasted Pumpkin Shell)

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Carbonada e Zapallo is a type of beef stew made with vegetables, dried fruit, potatoes, and spices and served in the shell of a roasted pumpkin. The beef stew and the pumpkin are cooked separately but put together for presentation and serving.

Go Big or Go Home

My family is filled with “go big or go home” type of people. If my parents, my brother or myself do something, we either do it right, or we don’t do it at all. It’s exhausting and rewarding and stressful and amazing. It’s both a blessing and a curse, really.

too tall pumpkin
Too tall!

This method definitely transfers itself to holidays… For the first fifteen years of my life, the neighborhood called my dad “Mr. Griswald” at Christmas. Our house was covered in lights from top to bottom, and Papa Foreign Fork would climb a 40 foot ladder to make sure that there were even lights at the very peak of the house. One year he decided that he was sick of putting lights up, and we never had them again. See? Go big or go home.

too squat pumpkin
Too squat– and damaged!

Go Big or Go Home: Halloween Edition

WELL. During halloween growing up, this thought process was present full-force. My family and I would go to the pumpkin patch each year and spend an hour searching for the BIGGEST. PUMPKINS. POSSIBLE. We wouldn’t leave until we had found the most obnoxious, gigantic pumpkins in the patch. For the rest of the night, my brother and I would find ourselves shoulder deep in our treasures, scooping out enough pumpkin seeds to feed us for a week.

I’m still a “go big or go home” person. I mean, I’m cooking a meal from every country in the world for crying out loud!

just right pumpkin
Juuuust right!

Searching for the Perfect Pumpkin Pot 

But the recipe for this Argentinian carbonada (beef stew) called for much different pumpkin-searching skills. I wasn’t just looking for the biggest pumpkin; I was looking for the perfect pumpkin. And this time it had to be perfect enough to serve as a pot for beef stew! After twenty minutes searching, finally, I found it. The perfect pumpkin was not too big, and not too small. It was deep enough to hold beef stew, but not so deep that my ladle couldn’t reach the bottom. I heaved that pumpkin up to the makeshift checkout counter and bought it. Then I spent the rest of the night shoulder deep in my treasure, scooping out enough pumpkin seeds to feed me for a week.

Carbonada e Zapallo in Square Bowl

Once the pumpkin and the beef stew are cooked separately, the stew is poured into the pumpkin shell. For every bowl you serve, make sure to use the serving spoon to scrape some pumpkin into your bowl as well. If you do not want to serve the soup in a pumpkin bowl, you can also just make the soup on the stove and serve it without the pumpkin addition.

This beef stew is such a great food to make for this autumn time of year! The smell of roasting pumpkin in the oven and the steam of a big, hearty bowl of delicious soup made this the perfect fall comfort food. As the weather gets chillier and that spooky time of year grows closer, you might find yourself at the pumpkin patch. If you do, make sure to pick up an extra one. Then, go home and experiment with this recipe! I promise it’s fun. Enjoy!

Argentina Carbonada e Zapallo

Argentinian Carbonada e Zapallo (Beef stew in a Roasted Pumpkin Shell)

Carbonada e Zapallo is a type of stew made with beef, vegetables, dried fruit, and spices and served in the shell of a roasted pumpkin. The stew and the pumpkin are cooked separately but put together for presentation and serving.

Course dinner
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 servings


  • 1 medium pumpkin about 13 lb
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 lb beef cubed
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 sweet potato cubed
  • 2 Idaho potatoes cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes drained
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup dried apricots chopped
  • 4 cobs corn cut into thirds
  • 6 cups water


Roasted Pumpkin Shell

  1. Cut the lid off of the pumpkin and scoop out the insides, including seeds. Try to cut the lid on an inward angle so that the top will stay secure on the pumpkin after cooking

  2. Drizzle olive oil over the inside of the pumpkin and season with kosher salt and pepper. 

  3. Coat a baking sheet with butter. Place the lid back on the pumpkin and put on the buttered baking sheet. 

  4. Roast pumpkin for about 50-60 minutes. The pumpkin should be soft and a little darker in color, but it should still be holding it's shape. If you cook it too long, the bottom will fall out... avoid this! 


  1. Heat oil in a large pot, and roast the garlic and onions until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. 

  2. Add beef and pepper and sautee until tender. 

  3. Add the spices, sweet potatoes, idaho potatoes, tomatoes, apricots, stock, and water. If more water is needed to cover the ingredients, add more. Season with salt and pepper. 

  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce down to a simmer and continue to simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork. 

  5. Add the corn (optional) and cook for another 4 minutes. 

  6. Fill the pumpkin with the soup and serve immediately. Make sure to scrape some pumpkin into each serving!

Recipe Notes

The corn on the cob is optional. I personally did not enjoy it in the soup. 

Recipe adapted from AtoZ World Travel. 

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