Kabocha, Kale & Roasted Garlic Soup

A simple winter soup made with the most delicious of all the winter squash - kabocha. Roast a head of garlic along with the squash for a rich, caramelized flavor and stir in sauteed kale for a hit of fresh green. 

Kobocha Kale and Roasted Garlic Soup

Remember when I first met kabocha and quickly fell in love? Well guess what? We're still going strong! In fact, I've left Scott and kabocha and I are moving in together ;-)

Okay, that last part was weird...

But in all seriousness, kabocha and I have been having quite the love affair this winter. I can't get enough of it's dense, creamy texture and rich sweetness! I've been throwing roast cubes of it into everything I eat...and sometimes snacking on caramelized cubes of it between meals. But mostly, I've been making soup. Lots and lots of soup.

I tend to get sick of pureed soups pretty quickly, but I remain enamored with this basic one, even after multiple batches. You can use this recipe as a template and add different flavors and spices as you like. Give it a Middle Eastern flair with a sprinkle of za'atar, swirl of olive oil and dollop of plain yogurt. Stir in sweet rice cake balls to make a traditional Korean soup called danhobak juk. Stir in curry and turmeric for an Indian spiced soup. Or, go all Paula Dean with it and cook the kale in rendered bacon fat then garnishing with crumbled bacon. Kale cancels out bacon, or something like that.

Vegan Winter Squash, Garlic and Kale Soup

For a topping, I saved the kabocha squash seeds and roasted them as I whipped up the soup. One thing I love about winter squash is you get a meal and a snack out of one piece of produce. Squash seeds are packed with nutrition - healthy fats, fiber, zinc, and copper to name a few. I've seen many recipes that call for meticulously soaking and cleaning the seeds, but I say pfffttt to that! The squash "guts," if you will, may not be as pretty, but it adds flavor and that's the important thing.

This is one of those recipes that speaks for itself, so I'll just get to it. But first, tell me your go-to winter soups in the comments below. The temperature is dropping and I need some inspiration!

Kabocha, Kale & Roasted Garlic Soup
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: serves 4-6
You could certainly make this with any other winter squash, it's just that kabocha is the best, so why would you :) Other greens, like chard or collards, work in this as well, just adjust your cooking times accordingly so the greens are wilted, not crunchy.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium kabocha squash
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of kale, thick stems removed, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Carefully cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and guts using a spoon, reserving only the seeds in a small bowl. Cut each half in half so you have four sections. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a large baking sheet.
  3. Peel away the paper outer layers of the garlic. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and wrap with a square of aluminum foil. Place alongside the squash.
  4. Place pan with garlic and squash in the oven and roast about 45 minutes until tender. Check the squash after about 30 minutes with a fork to see if it's tender. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  5. While cooling, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and saute 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add kale, salt and pepper and saute until wilted, adding a couple tablespoons of water to help it steam.
  6. While the kale is wilting, scoop squash flesh and roasted garlic (just squeeze the individual cloves out of it's paper) into a blender. Add vegetable broth, turmeric and caynne and blend until pureed. Pour into the pot with the kale. Add 2 cups water to the blender to help rinse out the remaining squash puree and pour that into the soup. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Bring soup to a simmer then cook 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  8. Reduce oven temp to 375. While the soup is simmering, toss the seeds with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet (can use the same one you roasted the squash on). Roast for 10-15 minutes until crispy and crunchy, but not browned.
  9. Serve soup garnished with toasted seeds.