Feeling like making something a little lighter, yet still comforting? Soup is your friend! Or maybe you’re looking for something to do with a random squash, like a kabocha, in your possession, and you’re ready to go beyond simple roasting. Here is a lovely and light, low-fat yet filling soup for your winter nights. Don’t skip making this topping – it is SO GOOD. It kind of reminds me of those little Asian sesame stick snacks which are my absolute favorite snack of all time – in fact, I can’t keep them in the house! And it does all this while being naturally vegan, darling. We had this with avocado toast on the side. (For avocado toast: Take a slice of hearty, whole grain toast, mash 1/2 avocado on top, and lightly salt & pepper to taste. Eat with everything!)
The original recipe is from Naturally Ella, a fellow vegetarian cooking blogger – be sure to check out her site! She is way farther along in her blogging journey than I am – she has two cookbooks to her name. Yay! I adapted the original recipe a bit – I blended the sesame oil right into the soup (she drizzles it on top instead) and I used panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) instead of quinoa flakes for the topping, mostly because that’s what I had on hand (it worked well!). If like me, you aren’t quite sure what quinoa flakes are, it turns out they are a kind of quinoa cereal. If you are gluten-free, go with those (panko isn’t usually gluten free). I also used maple syrup instead of honey, only because I was too lazy to mess with the stickiness of honey (also, this keeps it fully vegan, if you’re into that).
Like many pureed soups, you will need a blender to make this (I use a Ninja! Hi-ya!). Don’t try to use a food processor – I found out the hard way that food processors aren’t meant to handle hot liquids like soups (your kitchen walls will wear it). You could use an immersion hand blender, though, if you don’t mind the soup being less than perfectly smooth.
- FOR THE SOUP:
- 1 kabocha squash
- 1 T. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
- 4 c. vegetable broth
- 1 tsp. dark sesame oil (the Asian kind that tastes like sesame)
- FOR THE CRUNCHY MAPLE TOPPING:
- ½ c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 T. sesame seeds
- pinch of salt
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 T. maple syrup (or honey)
- Prepare the squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If you find your squash to be too hard to comfortably cut it, pierce it all over with a small knife, and microwave it for about 5-7 minutes (depending upon its size) to soften it enough to cut (cool it first). Then, cut into quarters, scoop out the seeds, and place the quarters on a baking pan (you can line the baking pan with parchment paper or a silpat to make cleanup easy). Lightly drizzle with olive oil and roast until tender, about 35-45 minutes if you didn't microwave it first, and about 30 minutes if you did.
- Make the topping: Combine panko, sesame seeds, and salt in a bowl. Add olive oil and maple syrup or honey, stirring well to combine. Spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (I used a small toaster oven sized baking sheet). Pop it into the oven with your squash for 10 minutes, remove and stir, then bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Prepare the soup: While the squash is roasting and the granola is baking, heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 T. olive oil followed by the red onion, and cook until the onion is translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add in garlic and ginger, and cook for another minute (not too long - don't burn the garlic!). Add in 2 cups of the vegetable broth, stir in the sesame oil, bring to a boil, and turn off the heat.
- Finish the soup: Once the squash is done and cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides into your blender. Add the onion-vegetable broth mixture and puree until smooth. Add up to 2 more cups of vegetable broth, until soup is the desired thickness. (The amount of broth you need partly depends on how big your squash was.) Return the soup to the pot, and heat on low until warm. Taste & adjust for salt & pepper or more sesame oil if necessary. Serve sprinkled with crunchy maple topping. Enjoy!!