If you like Japanese kabocha pumpkin like I do, this is the best time of the year to enjoy them. Although kabocha pumpkins are available year-round, they are at their best now in the late summer / early fall season. When picking a kabocha pumpkin, look for ones with a dark green skin and a dry corky stem. Sometimes you will see narrow greyish-green strips running from the top to the bottom of the pumpkin. These are all signs of a kabocha pumpkin that is mature and ready for immediate cooking.But if the kabocha pumpkin has wide bright green strips (see photo to the right), this is a sign that the pumpkin has not yet matured. They will need to sit and let ripen for a while before cooking. This is important to distinguish as unripe kabocha pumpkins taste rather bland. The maturing process allows for the pumpkin’s starch to convert to carbohydrate, transforming it into a smooth sweet squash with a bright orange-yellow flesh inside. Most kabocha pumpkins reach its peak of ripeness between 6 – 12 weeks after harvest. Learn more about Kabocha Japanese pumpkins in my Common Asian Ingredientssection.
Luckily for me though, I found good looking ripened kabocha pumpkins in my local supermarket this week. At $0.69/lb, how can I pass them up? And having tasted some delicious pumpkin-filled moon cakes a few weeks ago, I was reminded of how much I love the taste and sweetness of this squash. Although there are many ways to cook a kabocha pumpkin, one of my favorite ways of course is to make soups out of them. Here is one of my favorite pumpkin soup recipes – made with carrots, corn, and pork. It is a naturally sweet-tasting, kid-friendly soup. It is nourishing, rich in beta carotene, high in fiber, and low in fat and sodium. This soup is very easy to make also. After blanching your pork, you cook all of your ingredients for 1.5 hour before putting in the kabocha pumpkin. Cook for another 30 minutes and the soup is ready! Give this recipe a try and I hope you will like this soup as much as I do.
- Boil a small pot of water to blanch the pork. Cut the meat to 2-inch chunks while the water cooks. Blanch, drain, and set aside.
- Boil 10 cups of water in a larger soup pot.
- In the meanwhile, peel and cut the carrots and corn to smaller chunks.
- When the soup water boils, add all ingredients except for the pumpkin to the pot.
- Cook on high heat for a few minutes until the soup water boils. Reduce the heat to a Low and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Set the timer.
- Meanwhile, wash and half the kabocha pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and cut the pumpkin to 2-inch chunks. Set aside.
- When the timer signals, add the pumpkin to the soup and cook on medium-low heat for 30 more minutes.
- Sprinkle some salt to taste and serve.