Pumpkin soup, YUM! It’s that time of year again, Halloween week! The most exciting part of October and I’ve got two equally exciting dishes to fulfil your desire for pumpkin. It wouldn’t be Halloween if you didn’t use the orange pumpkin as your spooky decoration to scare your tick or treaters. However, I will be introducing the Kabocha Pumpkin, which can be a tasty staple in your winter shopping trolleys from now on.
You may know that I used to live in Chicago, where I trained to be a chef. However, every October my inner child would emerge and this was when my excitement for Halloween began. I was completely shocked about the amount of effort that even my professors put in to the celebration. Now its just tradition for me, so will these dishes be to you.
The Kabocha pumpkin is the Japanese version of the ‘normal’ pumpkin. It has a distinctive forest green thick skin and its sweet rich deep flavours compare to butternut squash. In Japan we eat Kabocha often in winter. One year my mum took it a little too far when she threw the seeds in a natural compost for our back garden. Every year since then our garden is filled with loads of kabocha, so we are always being inventive with ways to use them, from tempura to kabocha salads.
The kabocha wouldn’t be a staple food of mine, if it didn’t contain health benefits and luckily it has plenty. For starters, if you are calorie counting, forget butternut squash. Kabocha has the same sweet creamy taste but at least 20% less calories and less than half of the carbs. Another bonus is that it is a good source of iron and vitamins C and B. Not to mention the fiber content, which allows us to enjoy the entirety of it, including the skin. This super food is not hard to find and is probably sitting in your local green grocer, or can be ordered in if you ask nicely. Comfort food just got less guilty!
Accompanying both dishes today are two different types of miso, infusing a distinct, humble Japanese flavour. I love miso so much, that I even have a miso workshop coming up in late November, more information here: Special Workshop Details. If you want to get creative I suggest you come along for a fun filled evening.
Lets get started!
Kabocha Pumpkin with White Miso and Soya Milk Soup
This soup is a perfect meal for when you want something filling but don’t have the luxury of time. Wholemeal bread or rice is a great accompaniment for the creamy texture from the soya milk and the gentle hint of Japanese flavour from the white (saikyo) miso. Saikyo miso originates from Kyoto with its pale color and sweet taste, it is a real crowd pleaser. I normally buy Clearspring’s Saikyo Miso, but if you opt for a normal miso use less to better balance the flavours.
Kabocha Hoto Noodle Soup
This soup is close to my heart and brings back memories of my childhood when my dad would ask my mum for it, as our Saturday lunch. It is a very traditional dish in my hometown of Yamanashi, normally using a thick wheat noodle similar to Udon noodles. The region of Koshu is famous for its wine but also provides a beautiful dark miso the perfect choice for this soup.
Lets get cooking!
If your feeling inspired and you’d like to find out more about miso, do come along to the miso making workshop. I contributed to ‘Spoilt Rotten’ an article all about fermentation in the September Vogue magazine. As the colder months approach, if you are looking for a different take on the roast, my take on it featured in this article in the Guardian: ‘It’s not all gravy: Alternative roast dinner recipes’.
With Christmas on its way, if you are looking for present inspiration, I have vouchers available for all my classes or for private lessons. For more details: Japanese Cooking Vouchers
Enjoy and have a great, spooky Halloween!