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It’s Officially Soup SeasonJump to Recipe
I’m a sucker for soup of all kinds; creamy, broth based, chili and hearty stews are some of my ultimate comfort foods. Every fall I get the itch to start cooking my favorite classic soups and experiment in the kitchen with new recipes. Despite the warm temps in Hawaii (I’ve been told they’ll drop into the 70’s over “winter” – fingers crossed), the soup cravings came in strong back in September! Even though I won’t experience a true “Autumn” this year, I’m grateful for the nostalgia that comes along with seasonal foods. And yes, I’ve been consuming all the pumpkin spice in case you were wondering! I created this Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup recipe for all my fellow fall lovers.
The Farmers Markets are overflowing with winter squashes at the moment and the varieties I’m seeing most here are butternut squash and kabocha squash. While I’m quite familiar with cooking and preparing butternut squash, I had yet to play around with kabocha squash. In the fall and winter months I always make some variation of a squash soup and so I decided to create a new recipe for a Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup.
Some Notes About This Recipe & Kabocha Squash:
Selecting your Kabocha Squash
Kabocha squash come in a variety of sizes. The first time I made this soup I used a single squash which was about 5-6 pounds, the second time I used several baby sized squashes, that were about 1-2 pounds each. I find the smaller squash are a little easier to handle and cut, although it can be a bit more tedious as you simply have more squash to prepare for the recipe. Another benefit to choosing a larger squash is that there is more of the edible flesh inside and it’s a lot easier to scoop out once cooked compared to the smaller sized squashes.
Kabocha Squash is a Japanese winter squash with a beautiful emerald green skin on the outside and vibrant yellow-orange flesh inside.
Flavor & Texture
The flavor of kabocha squash is mildly sweet, (less so than a sweet potato) with some hints of pumpkin flavor. The texture of the cooked flesh falls between butternut squash (very smooth and moist) and acorn squash (a bit more chunky and dry).
To really showcase the flavor of the squash in this recipe, I refrained from my normal liberal use of spices and herbs and simply seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, onion and bacon (don’t worry! the vegan and vegetarian adaptations are super easy). The use of full fat coconut milk maximizes the creaminess we all look for in a warm bowl of soup, while keeping it dairy free.
Knowing myself, it’s likely I’ll experiment with adding some warming spices and flavorings like ginger, coriander and a hint of maple syrup the next time I make this soup.
Why Roast the Kabocha Squash First?
Roasting the kabocha squash is my preferred method of cooking the squash. Roasting at a high temperature causes the sugars in the squash to caramelize, which boosts the flavor of the soup.
Swaps for Vegan & Vegetarian Versions of Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup
I’m a big fan of cooking with bacon for the added flavor it lends. I love that a little goes a long way in terms of seasoning food. For example, I use only 6 strips of bacon for this recipe and some of the fat is discarded, while a portion is reserved to cook the onions and garlic. The recipe serves about 6-7 people, so each person gets about 1 slice worth of bacon crumbles to top their bowl of soup.
If you prefer no bacon, or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, simply omit the bacon and use 3 tablespoons of olive oil to saute the onions and garlic.
I used low sodium chicken broth in my version of this recipe, however, you could easily swap it for vegetable broth to make this recipe vegetarian.
Equipment Needed to Make Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup
You will need a blender to prepare this recipe and achieve the velvety smooth mouthfeel. I prepared this recipe using my Vitamix. I considered using my immersion blender, but the one I currently own doesn’t seem to be powerful enough to create a smooth puree consistency. You could certainly try using an immersion blender, but may end up with a chunkier soup.
Time Saving Shortcuts
If you’re short on time, but would like to make this recipe, I recommend cooking the squash the day before you plan to serve the soup. Prep and cook the squash according to my instructions in the recipe and after you remove all the cooked flesh (should yield around 4 cups of cooked squash), refrigerate it until the next day. Once you’re ready to prepare the soup, cook your bacon, onions and garlic and follow the recipe instructions to blend, warm and serve the soup.
If the thought of cutting the squash, scooping out the seeds, roasting them, allowing them to cool and then FINALLY scooping out the cooked flesh sounds like way too much, I’ve got one more secret cheat method for you. Instead of fresh kabocha squash you can substitute either canned pumpkin, canned butternut squash or frozen cubed butternut squash. You’ll need a total of about 4 cups of whichever you choose.
Keep in mind that the canned versions, may have a higher water content, meaning you may need to reduce the amount of broth in your soup. For the frozen butternut squash, you’ll need to steam it first. The canned pumpkin or canned squash can be added directly to the blender with the other ingredients. Should you choose this shortcut method, it’s likely you won’t achieve the same flavor profile as you won’t have the caramelization from roasting the squash. Regardless, you’ll have a delicious soup that’s ready to serve in under 30 minutes.
Kabocha Squash Nutrition
Perhaps the greatest known nutritive qualities of all varieties of winter squash is their abundant offering of carotenoids. Carotenoids are the pigments that give winter squash and other orange fruits and vegetables their colorful orange and yellow hue.
In addition to being responsible for the bright colors of squash, carotenoids function as antioxidants, helping to decrease inflammation and protect the body from cancer and chronic diseases. Beta-carotene is one of the most well known carotenoids, which serves as a precursor to Vitamin A, an essential nutrient for growth, development, immune system function and eye health. Lutein is another carotenoid found in squash that plays a role in eye health and dietary intake may play a role in prevention of macular degeneration.
Kabocha squash is a moderate source of carbohydrate containing a mixture of starches and sugars. About 1 cup of cooked squash contains roughly 10 grams of carbohydrate.
Kabocha squash is also a fair source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and Folate.
My recipe for Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup is the perfect way to reap the nutritional benefits of Kabocha Squash. I hope you’ll give it a try.
How to Serve This Soup
There are many ways to enjoy this kabocha squash soup as a delicious addition to any meal. I don’t recommend serving as the main course as it is low in protein on its own and doesn’t provide enough energy for a full meal. Try some of the pairings below:
- Pair with a sandwich (grilled cheese, turkey & veggie, ham & cheddar)
- Serve as an appetizer before a meal
- Serve as a side dish as part of a meal
- Pair with a salad that contains protein such as beans or rotisserie chicken.
Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup
- 5-6 lb kabocha squash (should yield about 4 cups cooked squash) (may use 1 large 5-6 lb squash or several smaller squash equaling about 6 lbs)
- 1 medium sweet or yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 slices bacon, cut into thin strips with kitchen scissors
- 1 13.5 oz can full fat coconut milk
- 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 ¼ tsp sea salt (add more to taste)
- ½ tsp black pepper (add more to taste)
- ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds (Optional for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the squash or squashes in half with a sharp knife, then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
- Place the squash flesh side down, skin side up on the baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on the size of your squash and your particular oven. You’ll know it’s ready when a fork easily slides into the flesh. The flesh side of the squash should have some browning or caramelization on the edges upon flipping over.
- While the squash is cooking, cook the bacon. Using kitchen scissors, cut the bacon into small strips.
- Add the bacon to a large soup pot and cook on medium-high heat until browned and crispy. When the bacon is cooked, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and reduce heat to medium. Discard any extra bacon fat.
- Add the diced onion to the bacon fat and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until onions appear translucent and tender. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
- Once the squash is done cooking, remove from the oven and allow to cool. This may take up to 30 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, use a spoon to remove the flesh from the squash. Don't worry if small pieces of the green skin remain on the flesh. The skin is soft and edible.
- Add the squash, can of coconut milk, 1 cup of the chicken broth and the onions and garlic to a blender. Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to add less liquid if it reaches the capacity. Blend on high until the soup reaches a velvety smooth consistency.
- Pour the soup back into the large soup pot and add remaining chicken broth, salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium until the soup reaches a light simmer, about 4-5 minutes.
- Ladle soup into bowls and top with crumbled bacon and pumpkin seeds.
How to Serve this Soup:
- This soup works wonderfully as an appetizer or side dish.
Modifications for Vegetarian and Vegan Version:
- Omit the bacon. Instead of using rendered bacon fat to saute onions and garlic, use 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
Can’t find Kabocha squash?
- No problem, use butternut squash, calabaza or acorn squash in its place.
- Keeps for 5 days in the refrigerator
- This soup freezes well
Did you make my recipe? I’d love to hear from you. Make sure to follow along and tag me on Instagram @nourishwithclaire with your photos! Share any feedback, insight or tips you have in the comments for other readers!
In the mood for another soup recipe? Try my easy Tomato Soup next.
Thanks so much for stopping by!