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I’ve fallen in love.

All three of these winter squash and pumpkin varieties were in my recent CSA delivery box. I liked the way the sugar pumpkin looked so I positioned it as the star in this photo (roasted pumpkin recipe below). I threw the kabocha squash on top at the last minute, mainly to add a splash of green to the photo. As a “food” person, I’m almost embarrassed to say I had never made anything using kabocha squash before. Silly girl.

One shot at making kabocha soup and I’m totally in love with this sweet, rich, and creamy squash. Seriously, this soup tastes like it’s made with sweet cream and butter — all because of the squash. What a wonderful find for my dairy-free (most of the time) lifestyle!

I’m on a mission to use every item I receive in my CSA share, no wasting organic veggies, no buying stuff at the market. So, I’m making things up and experimenting and using other recipes for launching pads and substituting with whatever is in my weekly harvest box. Last month I did a post on the nutritional value of pumpkins and said I had no desire to actually deal with them — that I would just use the canned stuff. I totally take that back! Forget I ever said it.

I used my sugar pumpkin from Grant Family Farms and it was so good, I am forever converted. I’m committed to fresh pumpkins from here on out. This is SO much fun. When your ingredients are wholesome fresh veggies to begin with, you can’t go wrong.

I’ll give you a brief rundown of the nutritional value of kabocha squash and get right to the recipe; if I can remember what I did. It doesn’t matter. You can’t mess it up (famous last words).

Kabocha is the generic name for a Japanese variety of winter squash. They taste a bit like a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin. One cup has only 80 calories, but is packed with vitamin A (145% DV), vitamin C, potassium and fiber. It’s also a good source of manganese, folate, omega-3s, and B vitamins. All good stuff. These things are pumped full of antioxidant richness.

I peeled and chopped the squash (see below) before cooking it because that seemed like the best way to make soup, but some sources I read also suggested baking it with the skin on and then eating the skin as well as the meat. Apparently the skin gets nice and soft and tastes great. I’ll try that next time. Or if you’ve done that before, let me know how it worked out.

kabocha squash soup
what you need

1 medium-sized kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
1 box (32 oz) vegetable or chicken broth (I like Imagine Organic Vegetable Broth, it’s GF)
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and drained

what you do
Put the garlic, onion, and squash in a large pot. Add enough broth to cover the squash, put a lid on it and simmer and steam until it’s nice and soft (about 20 minutes). Mash with a fork or potato masher, add the rest of the broth and mix well. (You could also zitz it up in your food processor or blender.) Let it cook on low for 30 minutes or so. Add spinach and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Once you ladle it into a bowl, you can add some crumbled cheese (feta, goat cheese, or mozzarella) and cilantro on top for garnish. YUM!

sweet and zippy roasted pumpkin chunks
what you need

1 medium sized sugar pumpkin, seeded and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
1 & 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 & 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
2-3 gloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1/4 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes (or more if you like spicy, none if you don’t)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

what you do
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put pumpkin chunks in a large bowl. Combine oil, syrup, garlic, red chile pepper, salt and ground black pepper in small bowl and whisk well. Pour over pumpkin and toss gently to cover. Depending on how big your pumpkin is you might need a touch more oil and/or syrup. You want it lightly covered, not drenched. Spread out on rimmed baking sheet and roast in oven for about 20 to 30 minutes — until tender (I like it a little firm, not completely soft and mushy). Toss once or twice while roasting. Serve as a side dish.

I made a big pan of this, served some for dinner and saved the rest in the refrigerator for mixing into a fresh green salad the next day. It was awesome!

Go forth and play with your food!

In good health,
Melissa

13 Responses to “kabocha squash soup & roasted pumpkin chunks”

  1. Lo! says:

    I love the idea for the pumpkin chunks. Something zippy for a cold day… nice.

  2. Lizzie says:

    It is so much fun to cook with the whole vegetable! Great recipe and nutritional info; now next time I see a kabocha I am totally buying it.

  3. This looks and sounds so amazing!

  4. Lauren says:

    Funny – I was debating the other night, standing over the kitchen counter with my butternut squash, wanting to cut it into cubes and roast it for a salad, but didn’t know if I had to peel the skin first or if I could eat the skin. I opted to get out the potato peeler and peel it before chopping it, but it’s nice to know I probably don’t have to next time!

  5. Shirley says:

    LOL You really can’t help yourself after you have fresh pumpkin … you MUST have it. Knowing what you’ll be eating at the end makes the process so worthwhile and enjoyable! I love a convert. ;-) BTW, there have been a few more posts on baking pumpkins over at Elana’s Pantry. One person said she bakes hers whole in her crockpot. Her method sounds really easy. Another person pointed out that canned pumpkin has that dark orange color and she figured out that manufacturers process the skin right along with the “meat.” I had wondered about the darker color, too, and saw that nothing but pumpkin was listed in the ingredients. So next time, after scrubbing my pumpkin thoroughly, I am plopping it in the crockpot (no water needed) and cooking it until it’s all soft, removing the seeds and such, and then putting it in the food processor.

    That kabocha sounds wonderful. The chunks look very much like the cushaw squash I mentioned. (It’s sweeter than pumpkin also.) Next time, I see a kabocha I’ll buy one and thank you for educating me.

  6. Kevin says:

    I like the sound of the csa’s. I have been enjoying squash and pumpkins a lot lately.

  7. Melissa says:

    Lo! Yes, indeed! They are delicious.

    Lizzie — I’m totally into winter squash right now and this kabocha squash is my new favorite.

    SGF — it really is good! And warming on a cold day. It’s snowing here right now.

    Lauren — I don’t know about the peeling thing. I’m going to keep peeling mine when I make soups and roasted chunks, but if you want to just roast the squash plain, I read you can eat the skin of the kabocha. Let me know how it works.

    Shirley — yes, Elana has some great information on her blog! Good idea about the crockpot! Kabocha almost looks like cantaloupe when you cut it up.

    Kevin — CSAs are the best thing ever! For a variety of reasons.

  8. michelle says:

    Melissa, what is that beautiful light colored variety? The kabocha squash here is the most amazing and flavorful I’ve ever had! That said, the butternut is the worst I’ve ever had here. We’ve been roasting it with the skin on (so much easier), but it doesn’t get soft in my oven…so I don’t cut it into chunks and cut it into wedges instead. Delicious with some chipotle chile powder ;) Your CSA sounds amazing!

  9. Hi Melissa,
    I am so on board with your love of squash and pumpkin! I love this time of year where there is such a bounty of these beautiful foods. I love your recipes and never thought about cutting up pumpkin and baking them as chunks. I will definatly give that a try. I have a beautiful pumpkin waiting to be eaten.
    As far as cooking squashes and pumpkins go, I do sometimes peel and chop but I usually use the other method you mentioned – cutting them in half and then baking them face down in a little water for about 40 minutes. Then I let them cool and they are so easy to scoop out of the skin. Or you can peel them and then cut them into chunks very carefully. Like you said, you can eat the skin of some of them if they aren’t too tough.
    Have you ever tried kuri squash? I recently discovered this true delight and fell in love. It is so sweet and creamy! I recently wrote a recipe for Spiced Chicken and Kuri Squash on my blog. It was so yummy.
    Anyway, love your blog and that you use your CSA veggies!
    sarah

  10. Eugenia says:

    The texture of kabocha is what really sets it apart. The Japanese often braise it with the skin kind of half-peeled, so it still has green strips on it. I’m not sure I’d eat all the skin, since it is a little tough, even after braising. The braising keeps everything moist and supple, since there is less water in kabocha than other squashes.

    I have a recipe I’ve been meaning to post, but have been working on the thanksgiving thang. It uses dashi and soy, and some ground pork, but you could also do chicken stock or even miso as a braising liquid.

    Love your blog; thanks for such a no-nonsense, devoid of sappiness and full of nutrition narrative style!

  11. Melissa says:

    Michelle — Cheesecake pumpkin? I think?

    Chipotle powder? Oh, yum, good idea!

    Sarah — great comment with good information! I’ve never had kuri squash, but I’m on a squash binge so thanks for the tip. And I will definitely stop by your blog for that recipe. Right now, in fact.
    :-)

    Eugenia — Wow, all of you have such good squash info! Interesting about the half-peeling method. Sounds like a good idea to me. The braising does too!

    Thanks everyone…

  12. Joyce says:

    Kabocha is the best squash I have ever tried. Its my #1 squash. Not trying any other!!!!
    This is it!

  13. Jennie says:

    Not had the Kabocha squash, but have had the Butternut, Acorn, Carnival, Sweet Potato, Spaghetti, Sweet Dumpling,one called Buttercup,(it didn’t taste that great), and pumpkin of course. I was introduced to Meal in a Pumpkin a few years back. It was delicious. You choose size for your family. Prepare enough rice/ground meat cooked mixture to fill pumpkin (raw), then bake @ 350 until pierced easily with a fork. Remove, cut into wedges, or scoop out both filling and pumpkin together. Season to taste. Easy meal especially for smaller sized families. I learned of the winter squashes since moving to northern GA, just south of TN state line, grew up in south FL. heard more than saw them down there. Banana and Hubbard squashes have been too big for me to even try.

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