By Hiroko Shimbo.
This naturally sweet and creamy Kabocha Squash Soup is a wonderful addition to a Thanksgiving meal. It is richly textured, delicious and light – no cream or butter. The secret is the use of vegetarian kelp stock as a base. Kelp is rich in the sixth taste sensation, umami, known a powerful natural flavor enhancer. Kabocha squash is loaded with nutrients – beta-carotene, calcium, iron, vitamins E, C and B. In Japan there is a saying that, “Eating kabocha squash on the first day of winter will keep you from catching a cold”. The green skin of kabocha squash is quite edible, but in this soup I use only the bright orange flesh. I cook the whole kabocha in the oven. This is the best way to preserve the rich flavor of the squash.
For the preparation of the stock please see the Kelp Stock recipe. Umami rich Matsumaeya Makombu, Wellington’s Ginger Powder, and mineral rich, complex flavored Suzushio Sea Salt, one of the best quality sea salts from Japan are used this recipe to contribute producing the best tasting Kabocha squash soup for your every day enjoyment or for a special occasion.
1 medium kabocha squash, about 1 ½ to 2 pounds (substitute with butternut squash)
2 medium Carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 small Leeks, white part only, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 cups Kelp stock made from Matsumaeya Makombu (see the Kelp Stock recipe)
1 ½ teaspoon Ginger Powder
¼ teaspoon ground Nutmeg
2 teaspoons Suzushio Sea Salt, plus more for finishing the soup
¼ cup Olive Oil
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds or Sun Flower Seeds
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Rinse the kabocha squash and wrap it in aluminum foil. Put the kabocha squash in the preheated oven and bake for 2 hours. Remove the squash from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon, removing as little pulp as possible. Scoop out the pulp into a large bowl and measure 4 2/3 cups of cooked squash. Freeze any extra pulp for later use.
Place the carrot, leek, kabocha and kelp stock in a medium pot, cover, and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Working in 3 to 4 batches, transfer the broth and cooked vegetables to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Transfer the first pureed batch to a clean pot and repeat the process. In the last batch, add the ginger powder, nutmeg, salt and olive oil and process.
Before serving, gently reheat the soup and divide it into soup bowls. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt into each bowl, garnish each bowl with the pumpkin seeds and freshly ground black pepper, and serve.
Makes 8 servings