Kabocha. A very fun word for a very wonderful fall squash. Kabocha is also called Japanese pumpkin and is shaped like a big round squat green-striped pumpkin with golden yellow-orange flesh. I love this orange-fleshed goddess of the autumn harvest. I only discovered this marvelous vegetable a few years ago, and I never tire of the sweet mellow flavor. It reminds me somewhat of roasted chestnuts, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes all rolled into one.
"Ka-bo-cha!" is also a fun word to say out loud. Sounds like it could be a formidable order when spoken with force. I can hear the storybook king screaming, "Kah-boo-chah!" instead of "Charge!" when the he issues a war cry to his troops. (Maybe I've seen too many movies about the Middle Ages.) If you put the accent on the middle syllable it can also sound like a blessing you'd say when someone sneezes. "Ka-boo-cha!"
Enough about the word itself. Let's talk Kabocha Squash Soup..... I came up with this recipe last winter and I love the way the squash and apple flavors meld with the toasted garam masala. The soup tastes like autumn. I hope it warms your heart and your belly.
Yield: Depending on the size of squash about 4 quarts (16 cups)
Kabocha Squash Soup
2 medium kabocha squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 small or 3 medium apples, (I prefer Fugi) roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup cream sherry (optional)
Directions:Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut squash into quarters and remove seeds Put squash pieces, cut side down, in a large roasting pan and add about one-inch of water to the pan. Roast squash for about 40 minutes until very soft
|Simmering apples and onions|
Add broth, turn up heat to medium, and let simmer while the squash is baking.
Put all spices except salt in a small sautee pan over low heat and warm until fragrant. Remove squash from oven and spoon flesh out of the skin and add to the soup mixture.
|Aromatics before toasting to enhance the flavor|
Optionally garnish with a dusting of cinnamon, a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream, or a teaspoon of sherry.
Tips for new cooks:
- The squash is extremely difficult to cut. Use a sharp chef's knife, cut on a level surface, watch where you put your hand that isn't holding the knife and be sure it's nowhere near the cut or the knife blade. Firmly hold the squash with the stem on the top. Insert your knife under the stem and cut downward toward the bottom. Your knife is probably not big enough to cut all the way through, so remove your knife, turn squash around so the uncut side is facing you and cut just as you did on the first side.
- If you feed the birds or squirrels in your yard, you can put the squash seeds out for them. They love 'em!
- When blending a hot mixture, only fill the blender half full and use care. The mixture expands and releases a lot of steam. Keep the lid on the blender and cover the top with a kitchen towel.
- This soup freezes well.
Oops, forgot to take a photo of the finished soup. Oh well, next time.