What it is: Also commonly known as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha squash average about 2–3 pounds in weight. Kabocha have an edible, dark green rind and sweet, pale orange flesh that tastes sweet and has a dense, almost sweet-potato-like texture.
How I discovered it: I grew up eating kabocha squash in homey, long-simmered Asian stews. The chunks of squash took on the flavors of the star anise, beef, garlic and ginger as it cooked, and my mom served this dish over steamed rice.
How to use it in the kitchen: After it’s scooped free of seeds, kabocha squash can be sliced, drizzled with oil and lightly seasoned, then roasted for salads or puréed for fall soups.
Where to find it: Kabocha squash is readily available in most supermarkets in the early fall. Uwajimaya frequently sells the squash conveniently cut in half for less than $2/pound.
How to Make Kabocha Squash Soup
One 3 lb kabocha squash, halved, de-seeded, and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup creme fraiche
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the olive oil over the kabocha squash, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast the squash until it is tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes.
Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven. Cook the onion and rosemary in the butter over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chicken broth, water, and squash and simmer for 30 minutes.
With an immersion blender, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Stir in the creme fraiche, and re-season with salt and pepper.