Even in Arizona, it’s starting to get colder.
If there’s one type of food that I strongly associate colder weather with, it’s soups, especially the thicker, warmer, and more wholesome kind.
With the colder air upon us, Heather and I narrowed our recipe search to delicious looking soups that ideally used seasonal (and very nutritious) ingredients.
And that’s how we found this kabocha squash soup.
What is Kabocha Squash?
Kabocha squash – often called “Japanese pumpkin” – is Asian cousin to the more common type of butternut squash we find here in the US. They don’t exactly look the same, though. Kabocha squash looks more like a small green pumpkin (hence its nickname), while butternut squash has a more beige skin and is more oblong in shape.
Nutritionally, it’s kabocha squash that’s the winner between the two too. A cup of kabocha squash has fewer calories and carbs than that of butternut, and it’s a greater source of beta carotene, iron, and vitamin C. Beta carotene, by the way, converts into Vitamin A, which is really as vital as it gets to maintain and improve our health and immune system.
Taste-wise, I do personally think kabocha squash wins out here too. It has a light and fluffy – almost sweet – taste to it, a taste profile that translates really well into this soup recipe. On top of that, the skin of this kabocha squash is edible, whereas that’s not really advised for most other types of squash.
Adapting the Original Recipe
When testing the original recipe, we followed very closely “by the book” to see how the soup is supposed to taste (delicious, of course). But there is a lot of dairy in the soup, especially heavy cream, which we figured might counteract the nutritional benefit of the kabocha squash in the soup.
With our second attempt, we did a “cup for cup” swap of dairy ingredients for alternatives. Instead of butter, we used coconut oil. Instead of regular milk, we used almond milk, and instead of heavy cream, we used full coconut milk. Still really tasty… although it was more runny and less filling than the original recipe yielded.
But by our third attempt, we found the sweet spot, and it was actually pretty simple. All we did was change the proportions of the almond and coconut milks (which you’ll see in the recipe), and we were back to the regular consistency of the original soup. Hooray!
Making the soup itself is actually a fair simple process. The first step is to cook down the onions and squash (and coating with coconut oil) in the vegetable broth until they are softened. From there, you get to the creamy consistency of the soup by blending the soup down to a smoother puree, and then it’s time for the almond and coconut milk. Piece of cake!
As we head into winter, I can gladly say that these recipes – both the original and our “dairy free” versions – are wonderfully nutritious, delicious, and perfectly filling keepers… especially when garnished generously with parsley and red chiles.
Have you tried kabocha squash before? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on it!
Kabocha Squash Soup
Yield 4 servings
- ½ large onion
- ½ a kabocha squash, deseeded and peeled and chopped into smaller cubes
- Coconut oil for cooking
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup full coconut milk
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Parsley and/or red chiles for garnish
- Put a stockpot to medium-high heat and, after about 45 seconds and once the stockpot is hot, add coconut oil and onions. Saute for about 1 minute
- As the onions begin to sweat, add the squash and another 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Saute the onion and squash together for at least another minute as the coconut oil becomes a coating
- Add vegetable broth and increase stove heat to high. Bring the broth, squash, and onion to a boil
- Once the broth is boiling, cover the stockpot and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for 12-15 minutes
- Begin checking the squash after 12 minutes to see if it is fully cooked through. The texture of the squash should be similar to that of a potato, so it will be fully cooked if you can poke a fork through
- Once it's fully cooked, take the stockpot off the heat and transfer the squash, broth, and onions to a blender. Depending on how much soup you're making, this might need to be done in two batches. Also, be careful, because this is hot!
- Blend the soup until the squash and onions are broken down into a puree
- Return the pureed soup to the stockpot and put to a very light simmer to keep it warm
- Add the coconut milk and almond milk and stir thoroughly over simmering heat
- Take the stockpot off the heat and serve the soup
- And you're done! Garnish with parsley or red chiles and freshly cracked pepper