Have you come across "Kabocha" squash in the market? It's a Japanese variety of winter squash, one that is heavy and thick-fleshed, similar in that way to butternut squash, but with a deep, rich flavor.
Typically, the outer skin is forest green, though some varieties are sunset orange or red as well.
My friend Kori gave me a kabocha squash this week, a big beautiful red one she grew in her garden. I had seen several peeking under the mess of sprawling vines and squash leaves when I visited her a while back.
They were already red, but not quite ready to pick. Apparently, you have to wait for the vine to almost completely die back before picking the squash.
The thing about kabocha is that there is no better squash with which to make soup. Unlike many other varieties of winter squash, such as pumpkins, kabocha squashes are almost all flesh.
The seeds can be scraped out and roasted like any pumpkin seed. But mostly what you get with a kabocha is thick, solid winter squash, which cooks up into the most flavorful soup.
I wanted to make sure we did well by this squash, and I think indeed we have!
How to Flavor Kabocha Squash Soup
This soup is thick and creamy without any cream. None is necessary to achieve the texture.
It's flavored with fresh ginger root, ground cumin, and coriander. A splash of lime juice when ready to serve helps balance the natural sweetness of the squash. We've garnished with fresh cilantro. But if cilantro isn't your thing, you could easily skip it.
Craving More Squash Soup Recipes?
How to Store Kabocha Squash Soup
Leftover squash soup will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
Since there's no dairy in this soup, it freezes well. Cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for 3 to 6 months. Defrost the soup overnight in the fridge.
Reheat squash soup in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep from burning on the bottom. You can also reheat it in the microwave in a covered microwave-safe dish. Be sure to stir and reheat in 30-second bursts until heated through.
Don’t Waste the Seeds!
If you feel like it, use the seeds to make a batch of our roasted pumpkin seeds. Kabocha seeds will work great using our method, and the seeds are surprisingly snackable.
Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup
Kabocha squash are hard! Take care when cutting and use a heavy knife. I find it helps to put the whole squash in the microwave first for a minute before cutting. That softens the outer skin just enough to make it easier for the knife to penetrate.
1/2 large kabocha squash, seeded (about 3 to 4 pounds for the 1/2 squash)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped or sliced onions
2 ribs celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic (about 1 tablespoon)
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Lime juice, for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro, optional for serving
Preheat the oven:
Set the oven to 400°F.
Roast the squash:
Use a heavy chef's knife or cleaver (it helps if you have a rubber mallet as well) to cut the kabocha squash half into a few large pieces. (Kabocha squash is thick and meaty and can be a challenge to cut. So take care! Make sure the squash is stable on your cutting board before you start to cut it.)
Scoop out the seeds (you can toast them like pumpkin seeds!) and stringy insides. Place the squash pieces on a foil or Silpat-lined roasting pan. Rub 1 tablespoon olive oil over all sides, and sprinkle with salt.
Put the squash pieces skin side up on the pan. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes until completely cooked through. The pieces should be soft and caramelized at the edges. Remove from oven and let sit.
Sauté the onions, celery, garlic, ginger, and spices:
While the squash is cooling, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a large (4- to 6-quart) thick-bottomed pan. Add the onions and celery. Lower the heat to medium and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, and coriander and cook 2 minutes more.
Add the squash, stock, salt, and pepper, then simmer:
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Place the roasted kabocha squash flesh into the pot with the onions and celery mixture. Add the stock, salt, and pepper. Increase the heat to high to bring the soup to a simmer. Then, lower the heat to low. Partially cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes.
Purée the soup:
Remove from the heat. Use an immersion blender (or work in batches with a standing blender, only filling the blender bowl 1/3 of the way each time) to purée the soup.
Add more salt to taste. Sprinkle with lime juice and chopped cilantro to serve.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 8g||10%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||7%|
|Total Carbohydrate 27g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||15%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 22mg||109%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|