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Wednesday
Oct222014

Easy three-ingredient soup recipe: Creamy kabocha squash and peanut butter

Easy soup recipe: three-ingredient kabocha squash and peanut butter soup 

We could not wait to make the year's first batch of the unbelieveably easy soup made with kabocha squash, a pumpkin with mottled green flesh, and, typically, a small patch of orange. It makes the creamiest, slightly sweet fall soup, and our recipe has only three ingredients: peanut butter, kabocha squash and water (the recipe is below). Try it and I'm certain you will love its ease, velvety texture and rich flavor. It's great in a cup for lunch, but also elegant enough to hold its own in a soup tureen on the Thanksgiving buffet table.  

We're not exactly sure how many calories are in a bowl since we have not yet found a reliable source for nutrition information. It's not in the database we use to analyze recipes, and what we've read on various websites ranges from 30 to 110 calories per cup. We estimated it at about the same as butternut squash and came up with a 175 calorie estimate per serving, including the peanut butter's 100 calories per tablespoon. Even at the highest, 210 per bowl would not be so bad for this delicious and filling soup that tastes like it has a cream base.  

Kabocha is often piled high in produce store bins this time a year, and it can cost 79 cents per pound and up. For soup, I buy a two-pound kabocha and roast it using a method I learned from Hiroko Shimbo, whose recipes in the cookbook "Hiroko's American Kitchen" prompted me to finally try kabocha. (A two-pound squash will make about 4 cups of soup.)

To pick a good kabocha, select one that’s heavy for its size with a thick, sturdy stem and an orange blush to its sometimes speckled skin. The skin should be dull, but still bright green in color.  A few beige bumps and scars are not a  problem.  

The flesh has a color and flavor that's similar to butternut squash, but it's sweeter and somewhat drier.  Kabocha can also be a good stand-in for sweet potato in pureed dishes. If your taste buds aren't sensitive enough to oppose, try mixing kabocha with Thanksgiving sweet potatoes to lighten any dish and enhance flavor.

Like other fall and winter gourds, kabocha can be a tough squash to cut. And, as with those other winter squashes, the easiest solution is to put it in the oven whole and bake it. Wash the squash well (the skin is edible), wrap it in foil and place in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. A two-pound squash roasts in an hour and a half. You can tuck it in the oven when you are cooking something else, then refrigerate it  until you are ready to cut, scoop out the seeds and make the soup (or to blend it with ricotta cheese for lasagna!). If you just want the squash to be easier to cut and not cooked through, Shimbo suggests baking it in the foil wrapper for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Either way, place the squash on a baking pan to catch any drips.

Kabocha is known as Japanese pumpkin, and in Japan, kabocha is favored for its abundance of nutrients.  It's rich in vitamin C and beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Japanese lore holds that eating kabocha on the first day of winter can prevent colds. Even if it doesn’t keep you well all winter, kabocha is a bright, tasty and healthful addition to cold-season meals.

 

Kabocha squash from Asian Food Market, Piscataway

Three-ingredient kabocha squash soup

(2 servings)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons peanut butter (I like Wegmans' crunchy)

2 cups water

2 cups roasted kabocha squash

 

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, melt peanut butter over medium-high heat.

2. Whisk in water until nearly blended.

3. Stir in the kabocha squash and puree with an immersion blender to desired consistency.  Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate.

Note: The soup recipe can be halved, doubled or tripled as needed.

 

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