Kabocha Squash Soup

published Sep 17, 2022
Kabocha Squash Soup Recipe

The rich texture of a kabocha squash makes it the perfect choice for a velvety blended soup. Enjoy it as a festive fall lunch or light dinner.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook1 hour

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A photo of a bowl of Kabocha squash soup, with some red and green garnish on top.
Credit: Kristina Vanni

While butternut squash and acorn squash often make appearances in seasonal fall cuisine, it’s time to start looking at kabocha squash as well. Also known as a Japanese pumpkin, this squash has a firm green skin and bright orange flesh. The flavor is delightfully sweet, with a texture somewhere between a sweet potato and a pumpkin.

The challenge with kabocha squash comes when you try to cut it. The outer skin tends to be quite hard, so it can be difficult to cut, even with a large, heavy chef’s knife. This can be easily remedied by simply popping the squash in the microwave for a few minutes to soften the skin before cutting.

The rich texture of a kabocha squash makes it the perfect choice for a velvety blended soup. To play against the sweet flavor of the kabocha, I like to add a bit of heat. In this case, I used a couple of tablespoons of spicy harissa sauce. You can feel free to substitute the harissa for another spicy red chili paste, such as Sriracha, gochujang or garlic-chili sauce. While this recipe is vegetarian and vegan, even meat eaters will love it. It makes for a wonderful fall lunch or light dinner.

Is kabocha squash similar to butternut squash?

Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash that has flesh that is similar in color to butternut squash. However, kabocha is sweeter than butternut squash and its flesh is firmer and less watery.

Credit: Kristina Vanni

How do you soften kabocha squash?

Kabocha squash is notoriously firm and can be difficult to cut even with the sharpest of knives. To make it easier to cut, cook the whole kabocha in the microwave for 2 to 4 minutes to soften it slightly. Be careful when removing it from the microwave, because it will be hot. After microwaving, the squash will be much easier to cut into halves or quarters before proceeding with your recipe.

Can you freeze kabocha squash soup?

Yes, kabocha squash soup can be stored in an airtight container and frozen for up to 3 months.

How do you make kabocha squash soup creamy?

You can make kabocha squash soup creamy by blending it using an immersion blender, or by working in batches using a high-powered blender or regular blender, and pureeing it until smooth. If desired, you can also stir a bit of heavy cream into the soup for a richer, creamier dish.

Kabocha Squash Soup Recipe

The rich texture of a kabocha squash makes it the perfect choice for a velvety blended soup. Enjoy it as a festive fall lunch or light dinner.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    large or 2 small kabocha squash (about 3 pounds)

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 1

    large orange bell pepper (about 7 ounces)

  • 3 cloves


  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 (32-ounce) carton

    low-sodium vegetable broth (about 4 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons

    harissa sauce, plus more for serving

  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Place 3 pounds whole kabocha squash (1 large or 2 small) in the microwave. Microwave on high until the squash is softened enough to cut with a sharp chef’s knife, about 4 minutes. Carefully remove from the microwave (it will be hot) and cut the squash in half. Using a large spoon, remove the seeds and pith from the center of the squash.

  3. Drizzle the cut sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place cut-side down in a roasting pan. Roast until softened and cooked through, about 55 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Trim and dice 1 large orange bell pepper (about 1 1/2 cups). Mince 3 garlic cloves. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

  5. When the squash is ready, let cool until cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh from the skin and add the flesh (about 2 1/2 cups) to the pot. Add 1 (32-ounce) carton low-sodium vegetable broth and 2 tablespoons harissa sauce and stir to combine. Blend directly in the pot with an immersion blend until smooth, or transfer to a stand blender and blend in batches if needed until smooth then return to the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Serve with more harissa sauce or chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.