Curried kabocha soup

| Prep time: 30 min | Cooking time: 45 min |Kabocha Soup

Yields 6 to 8 servings

Since moving to Japan, I’ve grown quite fond of kabocha. Although many refer to it as a “Japanese pumpkin,” it is in fact neither a pumpkin nor originally from Japan. Kabocha was first introduced to Japan by Portuguese sailors in 1541. They brought the winter squash with them from Cambodia. It has long since become a staple of many traditional Japanese foods.

Additionally, curry – as you may or may not know – has also become a staple dish in Japan. Arguably, Japanese curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan; weighing in ahead of ramen, udon, soba, sashimi, and even sushi. Although this recipe is neither directly related to Japanese curry nor a traditional means of serving up kabocha, I like to think that it does honour to both. Regardless, to be perfectly frank with you, my primary inspiration came from the Nepalese diaspora of Japan which have taken to serving up kabocha curry in many restaurants.

To make your life easier while making this recipe, you should make your vegetable stock ahead of time. No cutting corners now. Store bought stocks just aren’t as robust as what you can make at home from scratch over the course of a rainy Sunday afternoon. If you’re not sure how to make a stock, don’t worry. Making a stock is easier than reciting the alphabet. Try using my simple vegetable stock recipe. It’s the same stock that I use for my chocolate beer beef stew. You can also make the kabocha apple purée ahead of time.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 200 ml onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 800 ml kabocha apple purée*
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • A 400 ml can coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over a medium-low flame. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Stir in curry powder and continue cooking for one minute. Next, stir in flour until smooth. Stir frequently as you brown the roux.
  2. Sauté until mixture begins to bubble slightly, stirring frequently to avoid burning the flour. Gradually whisk in broth and cook until thickened.
  3. Stir in kabocha and coconut milk.
  4. Add honey, orange juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer. Continue simmering for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often.

Kabocha apple purée*Kabocha

This is incredibly easy to make. To yield 800 ml, you’ll need to steam approximately 1/2 of a kabocha and one large, sweet apple.

Ingredients

  • 1/2  to 3/4 of a kabocha (average size)
  • 1 large, sweet apple
  • 200ml of fluids (reserved apple juice mixed with water)

Directions

  1. Place a steamer basket in a large pot and fill it with water until just below the base of the basket.
  2. Remove the seeds from the kabocha. Cutting it into chunks the kabocha, place it with the skin side down in the steamer basket.
  3. Next, quarter the apple (skin on) and remove the core. Halve each of the pieces and place them in a shallow bowl made out of aluminum foil. Place this makeshift bowl above the kabocha.
  4. Cover the pot and begin the steaming process. Once the water comes to a steady boil, reduce the heat and steam the kabocha and apple for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and let the kabocha and apple sit in the steam for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the skin from both the kabocha and the apple. Make sure to reserve the apple juices.
  7. In a food processor, blend the two together along with 200 ml of water (including the reserved juices). Voilà, kabocha apple purée.
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