Colder months calls for hearty soups using seasonal ingredients with kabocha easily found at Asian grocery stores in Toronto.
Kabocha, the Japanese pumpkin is a versatile squash that can be cooked and used the same way the pumpkin can. However, I find that it cooks more quickly than pumpkin and the flesh gets very soft when cooked, making it a great base for pureed soups and gnocchi. I find the taste more rich and slightly sweeter than the butternut squash. I like to stir fry it with minced meat and garlic for a quick weeknight meal.
I have used red lentils in the recipe which not only adds texture and colour to the soup, it cooks quickly with no pre-soaking required.
I pureed the squash and left the red lentils as is for texture, but feel free to puree the soup for a silky finish. Have more stock handy than the recipe calls for depending on how thick you want the soup.
I have used homemade chicken stock in the recipe, but feel free to use vegetable stock to make this a fully vegetarian soup. I have topped the soup with sour cream, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
The recipe makes about 8 bowls of soup
- 1 cup of red lentils
- 1 medium shallot minced
- 3 cloves of garlic-minced
- 2 pounds of the kabocha squash (makes about 3 cups of pureed)
- 1 tbsp herbs de provence
- 7 cups of chicken stock
- 1 tsp of cumin
- 1 tsp of ground coriander
- ½ tsp of tumeric
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp of butter
- Canola oil
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the kabocha into quarters with the skin on, rub the flesh with oil, a pinch of salt and herbs de provence. Roast on a baking tray for 45 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and can be scooped with a spoon. Blend the squash until smooth. Reserve 3 cups of the puree for the soup.
- In a pot, add oil and butter to soften the shallots and the garlic. Add the red lentils followed by 4 cups of stock and the bay leaves. After the boil, let the stock simmer. The lentils will absorb most of the stock. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Keep the soup simmering. Add in the pureed squash and add in the ground cumin, coriander and turmeric. Add in the remaining stock followed by salt and black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
- Stir the soup, remove the bay leaves and serve.