Japanese Pumpkin Soup with Fresh Basil

Does squash rarely come to mind when thinking about dinner plans? When done correctly, squash can be delicious and adds vital nutrients to your healthy lifestyle. One squash that often gets overlooked is Kabocha squash, or Japanese Pumpkin. Its pumpkin-like shape and green hues make it the perfect fall vegetable.

Considered to be a bit of an unknown squash, Kabocha squash is sweeter tasting than butternut squash and similar in texture and flavor to pumpkin and sweet potato. Kabocha squash can round out healthy and delicious meals, or become a meal of their own when served as a soup. This versatile vegetable can be roasted, baked, steamed or enjoyed any number of ways. Cut into cubes and toss with pasta. Serve roasted Kabocha squash dusted with a little cinnamon and nutmeg as a side dish to roasted chicken or fish. Add fresh herbs like sage and rosemary for an extra layer of flavor.

Pureed as a soup, Kaboucha squash provides a tasty, healthy, low-calorie meal with a unique serving option. Wow your family and friends by serving the soup in the squash itself. This simple, beautiful presentation will create a dish so enticing they won’t even notice how healthy it is!

Each delicious bite or spoonful of Kabocha squash provides needed fiber, beta carotene, iron, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, folic acid and a few B vitamins. In varying degrees, these nutritional properties aid in skin care, hair care, improve the body’s immune system and have a positive impact on metabolism overall.

Kabocha squash is available in early fall at most supermarkets, Farmer’s markets, and you may even find them in the pumpkin patch!

Kabocha Squash Soup with Fresh Basil (Serves 4)

  • 6 Kabocha squash, 4 reserved for serving bowls, 2 halved and seeded
  • 2 fresh red bell pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3½ cups fat free chicken broth
  • 3½ cups water
  • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbs chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 medium block fresh parmesan cheese

Roast squash: Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast two squash that have been halved and seeded. Place cut sides down, in an oiled or parchment paper lined roasting pan in middle of oven until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, scrape flesh from skin.

Broil peppers: Switch oven to broil. Place red bell pepper halves skin up on a baking sheet. Place under broiler until skin is charred. Remove peppers from broiler and place in a brown paper bag and fold to seal or place in a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for about 15 minutes. Remove peppers and using hands, wipe off charred skin. Chop coarsely.

Prepare Kabocha Squash serving bowls: Carefully cut around the top of the squash releasing the “top” of the squash. Using a spoon, scrape out much of the inside flesh and seeds of the squash. Place in the oven on a roasting pan, with top, for about 10 minutes. Remove immediately and allow to cool completely. Set aside.

For soup: Add olive oil to stock pot. Add onion and garlic. Saute about 1 minute. Add chicken broth, water, vinegar and simmer. Add the roasted squash that has been roasted for an hour and removed from the skin and the roasted red bell pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes and add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Stir to blend. Add sage and remove from heat. Working in batches, puree soup in a food processor or blender until smooth, adjust seasonings as desired. Serve with parmesan cheese shavings, if desired.