This luscious kabocha squash soup is infused with savory miso and topped with sweet and spicy maple roasted walnuts.
Lately, I've been doing something that I haven't done a whole lot of for a while: cooking for me. I say that because at some point along my blogging journey, I slipped into a pattern of cooking just for the blog. Not that the blog was the only reason I'd get to cooking, necessarily, but when it came to deciding what to make, I'd pretty much always opt to try out something new that I hoped to share (and something I thought you guys would love).
Over the past few years, dinners on nights when I didn't feel like working on a new recipe for this site have typically been devoted to something easy, like leftovers, veggie burgers, or even take out. Recently though, I've gotten the urge on those nights to cook up something for myself, like an old favorite or a cookbook recipe. What I've gravitated towards the most, on either occasion, is soup.
This is a soup I made for me, but then I decided to share it anyway, because I loved it so much. Kabocha squash just might be my favorite winter squash, and it makes an amazing soup. It's not always easy to find, and I really couldn't find it at all in my area until a few years ago. If you can't get your hands on a kabocha squash, I'm pretty sure butternut or acorn squash would work just as well. What's important is the sweet and savory blend of miso and sweet winter squash.
The nuts were a bit of an afterthought, but the idea came from a miso glazed eggplant dish I got at a restaurant (that would be the dish that inspired this recipe). They add the perfect level of additional sweetness to balance out the miso, and the perfect amount of crunch to top off the velvety smoothness of the soup.
Miso Kabocha Squash Soup with Maple Roasted Walnuts
For the Kabocha Squash Miso Soup
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 cups peeled and diced (½ inch) kabocha squash (about 1 medium, 3 pound squash, you could substitute butternut or acorn squash)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 3 cups water
- 2 to 4 tablespoons white miso paste
For the Maple Roasted Walnuts
- 1 cup shelled walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- dash cayenne pepper
- chopped scallions
Make the Kabocha Squash Miso Soup
Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and squash. Cook until onion is soft and translucent, and squash just begins to soften, about 10 minutes, flipping occasionally. Add garlic and ginger, and cook for about 1 minute more, until very fragrant. Add water, raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until squash is tender, about 10 minutes.
Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and blend until completely smooth. Return the soup to the pot, place over medium heat, and warm it back up to the desired temperature. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of miso in a small amount of hot water, then add it to the soup and stir. Taste test, and if desired, dissolve some more miso in hot water and add it to the soup. Keep going until you reach a balnce of sweet/savory/salty that you're happy with.
Make the Maple Roasted Walnuts
While the soup cooks, preheat the oven to 375°. Place the walnuts, maple syrup and cayenne pepper into a bowl and toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet with a rim or lip and sprinkle with salt. Bake until nuts are browned and the liquid has cooked off, about 10 to 13 minutes, watching them closely to avoid burning.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with scallions and walnuts. Serve.