Before I share the recipe for this roasted kabocha squash and pear bisque, let me say that I resisted becoming a kabocha person until it actually happened. It seemed so trendy, so popular; surely there was nothing that made the kabocha squash so vastly superior to other winter squash varieties. Surely.
But actually, kabocha squash is just…better. It’s the perfect marriage of sweet potato heft and heartiness with the not-too-sweet flavor of other winter squashes. The flesh is both dense and also magically, amazingly silky smooth. It is, in short, pretty magical, and once you’ve tasted it–no matter how annoying it is to chop it open and cut it into pieces and roast it–it’s hard to go back to butternut without a feeling of slight wistfulness.
Kabocha squash is more work than other squashes for the principle reason that there’s no shortcut; it’s nearly impossible to find it pre-cut, so if you buy some, it’s probably a whole squash (or Japanese pumpkin). It’s also got a thick exterior, so the chopping itself isn’t easy (as opposed to, say, acorn or delicata squash, which are a breeze to cut). But, once you start to see it as a great culinary project, it becomes easier to embrace working with kabocha.
In the past, I’d never have considered blending kabocha squash up into a soup; it felt like too precious an ingredient for that. But now that I’ve made kabocha soup, I have to say that it was totally worth it, because this particular soup is richer and more complex and somehow more sophisticated than my usual butternut or acorn concoctions. It’s a perfect Thanksgiving (or other holiday) appetizer, and if you have time to make it, the cashew cream makes the dish feel super special.
You could skip the roasting in this recipe and try simmering the squash and vegetables instead, but I find roasting to be a little easier, and I also love the deep, sweet taste it brings out in all of the vegetables and fruit. That complexity is evident in the soup, which is super flavorful
As I said, the soup is a great appetizer, but it’s also a great lunch, if you serve it with a sandwich or a nice, hearty salad.
Hope you like it as much as I do. I’ll be back tomorrow!