Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kabocha Squash Soup

Kabocha is Japanese pumpkin, but it really is more like an exotic version of squash than a variation on the familiar orange Halloween vegetable that we use for pies and jack-o-lanterns. It is smaller, sweeter, and has a different flavor. The skin is green and edible, but you may wish to remove it for this soup because it doesn't smoothly puree and affects the color. With the peel, the soup is greenish. Without, it is a deeply golden orange. Mainly, keeping the skin or not is an aesthetic choice.

I have little access to the types of squash varieties that people back home in America do, so I work with kabocha by default rather than as an act of  defiance against more accessible varieties. For me, this is the "accessible" one. It's delicious, so it's no hardship, but I realize that a recipe like this may be of little value to those who don't have access to Asian vegetables. I've read that kabocha is similar to buttercup squash, so this recipe can be made with that as a substitute.

I had this soup as a side dish with a protein-rich course and it is very filling and extremely tasty. There is a lot of substance in it and it should keep you full for hours. In fact, it filled me with warmth and satiety for about 4 hours! It's a lovely soup for cold weather.

In regards to recipe alterations, I used chicken bouillon granules, and they were salty enough so whether or not you add salt depends on your consomme or bouillon's flavor and your personal tastes.

Kabocha Squash Soup (low-fat):
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
400 grams/14 oz. (seeded weight) kabocha squash or buttercup squash
2 cups water
1 cup skim milk
2 chicken consomme cubes or bouillon
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste (optional)
scant amount of vegetable oil (1 tsp.)
  1. Wrap the kabocha squash in plastic wrap and cook at high heat in microwave for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the squash from the oven. Optional step: Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the outer layer of green skin. This will make a more uniform-looking soup without tiny bits of peel in it, but is not necessary.
  3. Scoop the seeds out of the squash and cut into pieces about 1"/2.5 cm. in size. If the squash is still too hard to cut, cook it for a few more minutes. Be very careful handling the knife as this is a firm vegetable and you may need to use a little force to cut it.
  4. Heat a medium-sized pot with a well-fitting lid over medium heat. Add as little oil as necessary to just coat the bottom of the pan (or spray with cooking spray).
  5. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until the onions are softened and slightly transparent. If you're using cooking spray, you will need to watch them more closely and possibly lower the temperature. Stir every 5 minutes or so. Reduce the heat if they stick or start to burn.
  6. Add the water, milk, squash, pepper and soup granules or cubes. Cover and cook until the squash is very tender, stirring occasionally. It should take about a half hour at most after the soup starts to simmer.
  7. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Salt to taste if necessary.
I usually use Sparkrecipe's calculator to tally up the nutrition information for my recipes and present it as is, but in the case of this soup, I don't trust the information that I received. The main problem is that multiple sources which provide nutrition data about kabocha do not appear to be correct. Most of them say that a 3/4 cup serving or 85 grams (3 oz.) provides 30 calories, but this does not match the information I have read about kabocha calorie counts on packages of plain, frozen squash in Japan. The data I see says that the calorie value is 70 calories per 85 grams (3 oz.).

I'm providing the SparkRecipes calculation, with my adjusted calorie count in red next to SparkRecipes value in black. I'm not asserting that I'm definitively correct (though I believe I am), so I'm offering the option of accepting the SparkRecipes calorie data instead of mine.

Nutrition calculations courtesy of the Sparkrecipes calculator:

1 comment:

  1. I was waiting eagerly for another post = ) The soup sounds divine and calorie safe, it really compliments as a nice side-dish to what protein you are serving. I am a Kobocha fan.. I wonder, if we add protein to the soup, it could be served as a while meaL? But.. my mind wonders off about ham hocks.. and those aren't really calorie friendly... hehe
    I microwave my kabocha too... what a time saver!!!! Can't wait till your next post = )