The Backup Plan: Kabocha Squash Soup

In our over-scheduled lives that feel overwhelming from the moment the alarm jolts us awake every morning, do people have time to cook anymore?

If you’re working a job that makes you feel completely depleted at the end of the day, do you have the energy to make the series of decisions it takes to make a dinner for yourself and others at the end of the day?

If you’ve been pulled in so many directions by your family’s needs all day, and, oh yeah, had to find a plumber to come open a drain plugged up by only God knows what, do you even have the desire to pretend you’re ‘living the life’ in Provence where you drift dreamily out to your lush garden with your children who always wear white clothes that never seem to get dirty or wrinkled, to be inspired to whip up some simple but creative meal for everyone, while sharing a meaningful lesson on food to your children?

Then you’re a better woman than I.

There’s a lot of debate going on about what we cook for ourselves and our families at the end of the day. Are we reaching for processed food because it’s an easy fix for our hunger? Or do we live on take-out? And is canned soup really so bad if the alternative is un-assuaged hunger or a dinner of cookies?

At various times in my life, I’ve gone through long stretches of time of doing all the above: I’ve probably made hundreds of meals based on processed food; I’ve dined on take-out for long stretches when I’ve found myself in jobs that were taking more from me than giving back; and in my 20’s, I sometimes would just have cookies for dinner before heading out with friends to play some tennis. Sometimes life – both good and bad – just gets in the way of our taking care of ourselves.

These days I try to plan my life a little better, now that I’m not just cooking for myself. I’ve finally learned it’s good to have a backup plan. For me, that means such things as doubling a soup recipe and freezing half of it in small, individual freezer-safe containers that can be easily defrosted for a quick healthy meal. Then all I need to make is a salad filled with seasonal fruit or veggies to round out our meal. Some soups are hearty enough to stand on their own for dinner, like chili or a posole; while others are a perfect lunch or light dinner, like the below Kabocha Soup.

Kabocha squash freshly roasted

Before diving into the recipe, a little about kabocha squash. Although most types of squash are believed to have originated in Mesoamerica, kabocha may have been cultivated independently elsewhere, and is today considered a Japanese pumpkin. We usually see them in the stores with a beautiful blue-green, slightly bumpy skin, although red kabochas have a brilliant red-orange color. Inside, the flesh is bright, almost fluorescent orange that’s texturally reminiscent of sweet potatoes when cooked. And you can just imagine all the beta-carotene that’s in a cup of it! So in answer to the above question, opening a can of soup is better for you than cookies for dinner, but this Kabocha Soup is much, much better for you than the canned.

Kabocha Squash and Apple Soup with Coconut

Cook’s Notes:

  • I used Fuji apples.
  • I used a food processor to purée the soup.
  • You can double the recipe and freeze half of it in individual freezer-safe containers for your backup plan for dinner at the end of a hectic day.
  • Sometimes I roast kabocha whole, to save time, but I feel the best flavor comes from roasting them halved. The squash flesh is a little sweeter, and has a caramelized edge to it, due to having the flesh exposed.


  • 1 – 2 kabocha squash, weighing 5 pounds total
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ apples, cored and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (sometimes I’ve used as much as 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2 ½ tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 glug sherry (1 – 2 tablespoons)
  • Toasted squash seeds for topping (optional)

Making It…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Cut the squash in half with a sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp and place in a bowl of water. Lightly oil the squash and place face down on a baking sheet. Roast for one hour, or until the flesh of the kabocha is tender. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can easily remove the skin. Coarsely chop the flesh.
  2. Heat up the olive oil in a large pot and add the onions and apples. Sautè until soft.  Add the squash and the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to meld the flavors, and purée with a food processor, countertop blender or immersion blender until the soup is velvety smooth.
  3. Reheat the soup and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes and serve.
  4. Optional: sprinkle a few toasted squash seeds over the top of the soup.

About The Wimpy Vegetarian

I'm a mostly vegetarian married to a Carnivorous Maximus and always looking for a simpler way to make a great dinner for both of us!
This entry was posted in MY PANTRY, Soups, Squash and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to The Backup Plan: Kabocha Squash Soup

  1. Rosemary says:

    Enjoyed your words, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy your soup! Have a Kobacha from my CSA that’s waiting to be cooked!

  2. lizthechef says:

    At last, I photo of Kabocha squash – which I keep confusing with something similarly named that people are using to make tea…Lovely recipe, Susan!

  3. This looks delicious Susan! Yum Yum!

  4. So delicious sounding, I will put this on my soup rotation.

  5. lapadia says:

    I love any squash & apple combo, my granny smith/butternut pie was originally with kabocha but we had so many butternuts in the garden…the rest was history. This sounds delicious, I love your soups. Impressed with your photos…

  6. boulangere says:

    Susan, this is your richest post yet. Very meaty, if you’ll forgive the pun. There is much I’m looking forward to respond to here, but I’m utterly spent. Great day, but spent nonetheless. Let me get some sleep, and I’ll respond tomorrow. Beautiful writing here! Thank you, it was a lovely end to a very long couple of days. Nice note to sleep on. After I throw together a quick chicken sandwich and fall into bed.

    • Thanks b!! I really so appreciate your comment – especially at the end of a long day for you; and what I know has been a long couple weeks. ‘Talk’ to you tomorrow! Glad to hear you’re not resorting to cookies for dinner 🙂

  7. Ms. T says:

    First of all, how did you know my kitchen drain was clogged with God knows what, which was my excuse to get takeout tonight??? (no joke–do you have a good plumber?). Second, and way more importantly, what a great post! Funny writing, delicious recipe, and gorgeous photography–what a combo.

    • Thanks so much Tiffany!! I really appreciate it! And that is so funny – I obviously had no clue this was your day. I’ll check with my husband the plumber – we recently had one here … and I’ll send you an email. Saw Meryl’s place a couple nights ago – fabulous, fabulous!

  8. Thank you for sharing this and linking up again to Squash Love! Squash makes a wonderful secret ingredient since we can whip up soups, salads, main entrees, and desserts! [Wishful thinking here that you’ll wow us with a dessert next ;-).]

    Kabocha is one of my favorites, perhaps even my top squash now. I love its sweetness, and the bonus meatier seeds for roasting ;-).

    • Thanks for stopping by, Annapet!! And yes, I’m definitely going to be linking in a dessert. I have some freshly roasted pumpkins to play with now 🙂 And yes, squash can be an amazing secret ingredient. A great idea I got from my husband’s step-daughter was to add squash puree to the braising liquid for short ribs! I did this recently for a brisket, and it added a subtle great added flavor complexity.

  9. Yum yum… LOVE the coconut addition!!

  10. Susan, didn’t you have the 3 bowls idea? If so, I can’t find it here. If I am wrong, forgive me, my mind slips some days! LOL!

  11. Susan it was Waverly from FOOD52! Apparently my brain came back on!!

  12. juniakk says:

    kabocha is my favorite winter squash!! i love the texture and flavor of it. my favorite is just to steam and eat. lol. delicious idea of making it into a soup. sending some #squashlove to you!

  13. I’ve been staring at my Kabocha squash waiting for it to tell me what to make out of it;) And here you are with a yummy soup recipe for me. Looks delish! I really like the addition of apple and coconut flavors.

  14. Richgail Enriquez says:

    YUM! I’d love to try this. And I especially like that you make your own vegetable broth, will have to try that recipe too.

  15. mjskit says:

    I discovered Kabocha last year and now it’s my favorite squash. I’ve made a couple of soups with it, but I think I like your recipe better. I will have to be making this soon!

  16. Bevi says:

    Making squash soup for dinner, a few days before Thanksgiving, is a tradition in our house. Kabocha makes a lovely soup. I also love to use Sweet Dumpling. Soup is so good, and a nice light respite from the heavy eating days to come. This is a gorgeous recipe and I can’t wait to try it!

  17. @Mango_Queen says:

    Ok, you had me at “soup”. But you made it kabocha, so now I’m hooked! Love this so much!

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