Happy Fall! In Ishikari, fall means kabocha and other delicious vegetables. Recently we received lots of kabocha from friends:
We also received a gigantic nappa cabbage, grapes, apples, zucchini, tomatoes... Ishikari is a good place, especially at this time of year. I've been looking for creative ways to eat all this deliciousness!
One such cooking adventure was a simple pumpkin (kabocha) soup. I used a pale green kabocha like the one in the back row center of the picture above. I liked it a lot, so I decided to share the recipe here. "Recipe" might be a bit of an overstatement, actually... the measurements are approximate. Kabocha vary in flavor and sweetness, so amounts of seasoning will change from one soup to the next.
Pumpkin (Kabocha) Soup with fruit and nut topping
- 2 onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter (I used unsalted)
- 1-2 tablespoons white wine
- 2 cloves (roasted) garlic
- Roasted pumpkin, kabocha, or other squash (I used half of a fairly large one--I would guess about 700 grams. Boiled or pan-fried would also work, but roasted is so nice!)
- Chicken or vegetable stock, approx. 3-4 cups
- 3 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced (I used parley, sage, rosemary, and thyme); you will use half in the soup and reserve the rest for the topping.
- 3/4 cup cream
- Maple syrup to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a medium pot over low heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and stir to coat with butter. Add the white wine, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook over low heat for another 10 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until the onions are medium brown (caramelized). Throw in a couple of cloves of garlic when the onions are almost ready.
- Add roasted pumpkin (kabocha) and cover with stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add herbs (reserving half for the topping) and remove from heat.
- While waiting for the soup, I assembled the topping (recipe below).
- Puree the soup. I recommend a stick blender, but use whatever method works for you. Add cream and more stock to thin the soup to desired consistency. Taste and add maple syrup, salt, and pepper as necessary.
- Return soup to heat and bring it back to a simmer. Serve with topping, recipe below. I also recommend focaccia bread.
- Pecans, small handful
- Pumpkin seeds, small handful
- 1 tablespoon butter, if you live in Japan and your bacon isn't all that fatty
- 150g bacon, strips cut in 5mm pieces
- 1/2 cup dried apple, diced (Fresh apple would be fine, but add it later with the nuts and herbs and omit apple juice)
- 1 cup bread cubes (on the dry side, 5mm)
- Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, minced (reserved from soup recipe, above)
- A drizzle of maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons apple juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toast pecans in a frying pan over low heat. Chop coursely. Then toast the pumpkin seeds.
- Melt the butter (if you are using any) in your frying pan over low heat, then add the bacon. Fry it until it's somewhat crispy. (Japanese bacon doesn't get crispy… and those of you using super greasy American bacon may want to remove some of the oil at this point. The ingenious Japanese way of doing that is soaking it up right out of the frying pan with cooking chopsticks and paper towels.)
- Add the dried apple and bread cubes, saute a bit to coat with oil, then add nuts, herbs, maple syrup, apple juice, and salt and pepper. Stir until the bread and apple absorb the liquid, and then saute on low until everything is somewhat crispy. Sprinkle over the soup.
- This would also be a nice topping for salads. Our Japanese friend who ate it with us also recommends trying it as a topping for rice.