Roasting root vegetables intensifies their flavors and brings out the sugar. This kabocha pumpkin soup recipe proves that same theory is true with pumpkin and other types of winter squash.
The soup may be made ahead up to one day. Store the completely cooled soup covered in the refrigerator. Gently reheat before serving.
- 1 kabocha pumpkin (or other orange flesh winter squash) about 4 ½ pounds
- 4 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning, as needed)
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 cinnamon sticks (broken into large pieces)
- 2 star anise pods
- ¼ teaspoon anise seeds
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (2-inch piece) fresh ginger (roughly chopped)
- 2 medium yellow onions (peeled, halved and thinly sliced)
- 8 cup vegetable stock
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper (plus more for seasoning , as needed)
Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the pumpkin in half. Scrape out the seeds and fibers; set them aside. Rub the cut surface of the pumpkin with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place it, cut side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin in the heated oven until very tender, and beginning to collapse upon itself; about 50 minutes. Set aside to cool somewhat.
Meanwhile, rinse the pumpkin seeds removing as much of the pulp and fibers as possible. Dry well between layers of paper towel. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds; cook, stirring frequently, until seeds begin to brown and pop, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; cool and drain seeds on paper towels. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. This recipe makes more than you need as garnish for this recipe. The extra seeds may be covered and stored in the refrigerator up to seven days.
Tie the cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, anise seeds, crushed red pepper, bay leaves and ginger into a double layer of cheese cloth or other thin clean cotton cloth to make a sachet. Set aside.
In a large heavy bottomed or cast iron soup pot set over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onion, and cook, stirring often, until translucent; about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and sachet, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Scrape the cooled squash from the skins, adding it to the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally 10 more minutes.
Remove the sachet from the soup and season it with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon white pepper. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until very smooth. Season with more salt and white pepper if needed. Bring the soup back to a gentle simmer. Divide the soup into 8 soup bowls. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.