(Note: this post was originally published on December 8, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Meet the Kabocha
We've decidedly entered into soup season and I'm very excited about it. I love everything about soup; it's comforting, nourishing, so cozy, and you can prepare a big pot and eat it all week. This Creamy Vegan Kabocha Squash Soup with Fall Herbs is probably the one I make most frequently all winter.
The real star here is kabocha squash, which in my opinion is the absolute best winter squash. Kabocha has such an incredible sweet flavor, and it's only subtly squashy (unlike some other types, like acorn, that are assertively squashy).
The other divine thing about kabocha is its texture, since it's unlike any other squash. Its flesh is very dense, not at all stringy, and can verge on chalky if it dries out. Because of that, kabocha makes the most wonderfully creamy soup. I can't speak highly enough about the thick, rich, luxurious, texture this kabocha squash soup has.
Cozy Flavors, Simple Ingredients
In terms of ingredients, this soup is actually quite minimalist because it simply doesn't need anything else. It's all about the kabocha, which is roasted for maximum flavor. Just some caramelized onions, a bit of salt and pepper, and some classic fall herbs are all it needs.
My main advice regarding flavor is to get fresh herbs! They really play a central role here, and using dried herbs just won't be the same. Any combination of classic fall herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, etc) will be fine. Want a good tip? Many artisan grocery stores will sell variety packs of herbs like "Turkey Seasoning", "Herbes de Provence", etc, which will allow you to get three or four different kinds for the price of a single herb package.
Make it Work for YOU
This soup is a luxurious, cozy, wholesome bowl of fall goodness. It's wonderful as a main course (especially with fun toppings, see photos for ideas!) or as a side dish, and it reheats beautifully. It also freezes well, so stash some in your freezer and pull it out on a busy evening.
Speaking of toppings, they're the best part and are a fun way to make this soup feel meal-worthy. Some topping ideas include roasted pepitas or pecans, homemade croutons or crispy chick peas, a drizzle of balsamic, your favorite crackers, or some dollops of chevre (or your favorite vegan creamy garnish of choice). Just make sure to add toppings right before serving so that they don't get soggy.
One other tip. Leftovers of this soup are so fun! Obviously, you can reheat it and have another bowl of soup. But I also love to use the leftovers as a thick, rich sauce for a roasted veggie and grain bowl. That's the best thing about soup- it's like the gift that keeps on giving.
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Kabocha squashes. Or use red kuri squash, or one of each; they're very similar.
Vegetable broth. This soup is so creamy and flavorful, water actually works totally fine here if you don't have broth on-hand. If you want to use broth, I suggest unsalted so that you can control the salt level. You can also stir in some full-fat coconut milk toward the end if you want extra creaminess.
Salt and pepper
Fresh rosemary. See my thoughts above about these herbs; fresh is 100% the way to go here.
Garnishes/toppings of choice
Whether you're a Kabocha squash newbie or a Kabocha squash devotee, this soup will be your new best friend for a chilly winter evening. The sweetness of the squash paired with the fragrant, woodsy herbs is such a lovely combination, and the texture is pure bliss.
I probably make this soup every two weeks all winter long. I hope you will too! I like to make a huge pot of it on a Sunday afternoon when I have time, then enjoy the leftovers all week. Soup is a very (!!) important winter survival mechanism for me, and I'm confident this one will bring you lots of cozy, comforting vibes.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
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Cut each kabocha squash around its equator and scoop out the seeds.
Roast the squash halves cut-side down on an oiled sheet tray (or two) for 30-45 minutes until very soft. Keep an eye on them, since they can vary greatly in size, which will determine how long they take to roast.
When the squash is finished, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool at least partially for easier handling. This could be done the day before too.
While the squash is roasting, dice the onions. Cook them in a large soup pot until just barely caramelized, with liberal salt and pepper. Note that deeper caramelization will yield more flavor, but will also make your soup slightly darker in color.
When the onions are done, add ~4-5 c of veggie broth and start bringing it to a boil. Add additional salt and pepper.
Scoop out the inside flesh of the squash and add it to the soup pot. Note that you can eat the skin of a kabocha, and it's actually delicious, so please save it! My suggestion is to treat them like potato skins and load them with all your favorite toppings.
Dice up a palmful of rosemary leaves and a palmful of sage leaves very finely and add them to the pot.
Once everything has come to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Next, turn the heat off the pot and blend it all with an immersion blender until a very thick, creamy soup develops. A standard blender is fine here too, but you'll need to work in batches.
After blending, strip the leaves off the thyme and add them. (I like to save them for the end since their flavor is more delicate).
Assess the consistency of your soup. If you want it to be a little looser, add more liquid until you get to your desired texture.
Taste your soup and adjust as you see fit. Maybe some additional salt and pepper? Additional herbs? If you think it needs more zing, try a little dash of cider vinegar.
Simmer for another 10-15 minutes after blending.
Serve in big, steaming bowls and garnish as you see fit!