become available in the U.S. and it seems sweeter and smoother. Kabocha,
cut in wedges, simmered in a bath of dashi, sugar, mirin, salt, and shoyu is
delicious, but today’s soup is even easier. The squash is steamed then
pureed with a vegetarian broth, spiced deliciously, and enriched with
sweet miso and soy milk to make a simple satisfying soup.Ms. Shimbo notes that kabocha came to Japan from it’s native South and
Central America by way of the Portuguese. The Spaniards brought the
pumpkin (and its promiscuous family) to Europe. The Portuguese, who also
had vast worldwide connections (empire aspirations?) opened trade with
Japan. Among the many other things/ideas they introduced to Japan was
this squash. The Japanese asked the Portuguese what the name of this
vegetable was, and understanding the question to be about where the
squash was from, they answered Kampuchea (Cambodia). The Japanese
heard “kabocha,” and so this mis-named vegetable found its way into
the language and cuisine of Japan. A simplified history of the vegetable
used to make this easy but delicious, soup!
Bright Orange Kabocha-Miso Soup
Kabocha no Miso-shiru
- 12 ounces kabocha squash or buttercup squash,
seeded but not peeled (about 2 cups?)
- One 4-inch square kombu,
soaked in 3 cups water for 1 hour in a medium pot
- 2 ounces of Japanese long onion (naganegi)
or leek (about 1/2), sliced
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground coriander (or nutmeg if you like it)
- a pinch of cayenne, optional
- 3 Tablespoons Saikyo miso (sweet white miso), or white miso
- 1/2 cup unflavored soy milk (or cow’s milk)
- Minced chives
Have a steamer with plenty of water at hit steam production.
Steam the squash until the flesh is soft, about 20 minutes. Use a spoon to
remove and discard any stringy inner flesh. Scrape out the soft smooth
squash and reserve.
Remove the kombu from the pot, and add the long onion slices.
Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to low, and cook until the leek
or onion is soft.
In a food processor, or with an immersion blender, blend the stock
with the squash to a nice smooth puree. At this point, you can cover
and refrigerate to serve later in the day.
Bring the soup base to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add the miso,
and heat and stir to dissolve. Add the spices to taste. Add the milk and
heat the soup. Do not boil—soy milk curdles very easily!
Serve in individual bowls garnished with the chives.
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