Zesty Kabocha Soup

Let me introduce you to my new best friend: Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce.

This is not a likely combination - me and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I grew up in northern Minnesota eating very traditional Midwestern foods where the spiciest pepper we used was ground black pepper. Until the food franchise came around, I had never heard of a chipotle pepper before.

And now, we are inseparable.

Chipotle peppers are smoke-dried jalapeño peppers. If you're a gardener you know that all varieties of peppers go through a rainbow of colors as they mature. Green peppers are quite young; whereas, red peppers are more mature. When a jalapeño pepper is super red and even a little dried out on the vine, it is picked and smoked and called a chipotle pepper. Yum!

Consequently, these little peppers are spicy, but more importantly smoky. Most people with a tolerance for spicy foods would not call chipotle peppers very spicy, but I think they are!

Now, what in the world is adobo sauce? It is a marinade that was often used to preserve foods prior to refrigeration. Now it is a sauce used to flavor foods. The recipes vary, but with chipotles, the sauce is usually tomatoes, vinegar, paprika, peppers, cumin, and the like. The sauce and chipotles are packed together in a little can, and they give each other flavor.

Finding this can be tricky, so keep an eye out for it. In my area, I found it at Whole Foods. A Hispanic grocery would also carry chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I bet large grocery stores would also carry it.

Now that we know what they are, what do we do with it?

I first used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce when making some black beans for a taco birthday party using a recipe from Veganomicon. I do have a variation on that recipe that I want to share with you, but I'm so excited about this Zesty Kabocha Soup that the black bean recipe will have to wait.

I was

Kabocha squash is an Asian variety of winter squash, but any winter squash or pumpkin would work in this recipe. I think Kabocha is more fun to say than "acorn" and it has a brighter orange color too, so I prefer it.

This soup, like most soups, gets even better the next day. Often with soup, I'll get tired of it after I eat it once or twice. Not with this soup. I ate this soup for three days straight and was wishing for more after that was gone.

This soup happens to be vegan and nearly fat free. Plus, the calories all come from healthful sources like the squash, cabbage, parsnips, and turnip. I used a whole wheat spaghetti, and I know some people are averse to whole wheat pasta. But trust me. In this recipe, you can't even tell the difference. So add some nutrition!

Zesty Kabocha Soup
6 servings, 1 hour

1 1/2 lbs kabocha squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or 1 if you have sensitive taste buds; 3 if you are crazy!)
5 whole cloves, placed in a cheese cloth for easy removal later
5 cups water
1/2 small head cabbage, shredded
3 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 large turnip, peeled an chopped (I used a scarlet variety)
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
Sour cream, garnish (optional)

  1. In a large soup pot, place the kabocha, chipotle peppers (whole), cloves, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the squash is soft. Remove the cloves. Use an immersion blender to blend until a silky smooth soup. You can also use a blender or food processor for this step, just be super careful about hot steam and soup splashing about.
  2. Return the soup to the pot, and turn the heat on medium. Add the cabbage, parsnips, turnip, and lime juice. Bring to a boil. Break the spaghetti into 3 inch lengths and add to the soup along with the cilantro. Cook until the pasta is done.
  3. Taste. Add salt, pepper, and additional lime juice as needed. Once the soup is perfect, ladle into bowls and dollop with sour cream. If it is too spicy, add more sour cream.

Print this recipe.  Inspired by Haitian Pumpkin Soup recipe from Whole Foods.