We’re talking squash again this week. Two weeks in a row, I hope this isn’t a fireable offense. What can I say, I’m passionate about squash. As if last week’s post didn’t convince you…
We stayed in New York this weekend since we had a few activities planned. One of which was the highly-anticipated feedfeed Market Day at the Union Square Greenmarket.
I first linked up with feedfeed on Instagram where they’re building a strong community of like-minded people who love to cook. Their website is growing, and is quickly becoming a go-to source for inspiration on a broad range of topics, from pies and soups to pancakes and smoothies. As the website evolves and becomes more searchable, its curated content will surely rival some of the biggest food websites today. I’m just happy to be a part of it all – as both observer and occasional contributor.
I was finally able to meet the founders of feedfeed – Julie and Dan Resnick – in person this weekend. Their Market Day event at the farmer’s market brought together a number of chefs, nutritionists, stylists and food bloggers and it was fun to chat with everyone about the changing food landscape.
Social media and social platforms such as feedfeed are no doubt improving the way that food is cooked at home. Restaurant-quality food is making its way into home kitchens as home cooks become more innovative and experimental.
My food has changed immensely since I’ve become part of a community who cooks and then shares the output online. I’ve become more confident, and have started to take risks with my cooking. I’ve become intrigued by unique flavors and textures, influenced in large part by the global accounts that I follow – from home cooks in the Middle East to UK-based naturopaths, and minimalist-minded Scandinavian food stylists. Like a sponge, I’ve soaked it all in, eyes wide open.
Gone are the days when squash meant a choice of acorn or butternut. Yes, I still eat them, but there’s a special kind of thrill involved when you hack into your first Red Kuri, or break down a Kabocha, with its tough green skin and sweet, almost spiced orange flesh.
I told Dan at Market Day about the Kabocha soup that I made last week, which was inspired by my engagement with the feedfeed community. I’d recently bought some Japanese 7-spice because I’d seen someone using it in a curry, and it piqued my curiosity. I found my Japanese 7-spice at Spices and Tease in Chelsea Market, but Amazon and other online vendors will carry it as well.
While I’m familiar with Chinese 5-spice powder and use it frequently in my cooking, I’d never tried Japanese 7-spice – a spicy, earthy blend of orange peel, black, white and toasted sesame seeds, cayenne, ginger, Szechuan pepper and nori.
The spice mixture sounded like a perfect match for Kabocha. Sweet and spicy is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and with the orange and ginger, a virtual soup was quickly forming in the food-centric depths of my brain.
The Kabocha starts with a slow roast in the oven with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper. Best to keep the flavors muted at this point to let the 7-spice really shine.
Once the Kabocha is prepped, gather your other ingredients including the Japanese 7-spice seasoning, onions, homemade stock and a can of coconut milk. The coconut milk serves the dual purpose of making the soup creamy and providing a soft white garnish for the additional 7-spice.
If there’s a dish that defines my cooking these days, it’s this soup. It’s simple to make, yet feels new and exotic. It’s healthy and can be eaten with a range of diets from dairy- & gluten-free to vegan/vegetarian, and even Paleo. It’s easy enough for a weeknight meal, but pretty enough to put on your Thanksgiving table.
And, yes, it’s delicious.
If you’re an Instagram user, I highly recommend checking out feedfeed’s account (@thefeedfeed) for inspiration. And if you prefer good old HTML, their website can be found right here: http://www.feedfeed.info Enjoy!
- 1 medium Kabocha squash
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon of freshly-grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon of Japanese 7-spice (whole spice, not the ground version)
- 4 cups of homemade stock (I used chicken stock, but to make this vegan/vegetarian, you could use vegetable stock instead)
- 1 14-oz can of coconut milk that’s been refrigerated for a few hours (or overnight)
- Pinch of Maldon salt for finishing each dish
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Break down your Kabocha squash by splitting it in half and scooping out the seeds. You can reserve the seeds for another use (spiced, roasted seeds can be made just as you would make roasted pumpkin seeds).
- Cut the squash halves lengthwise into segments (they’ll resemble half moons).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the squash segments, tossing with the olive oil and seasoning with the salt and pepper to taste.
- Roast the squash for an hour, flipping halfway through.
- Let the squash cool, and then scoop out the flesh and reserve.
- Heat a Dutch oven on medium-high heat and add the olive oil, and the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sweat the onions until translucent, stirring every so often to prevent browning.
- When the onions are nearly done, add the ginger and Japanese 7-spice, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
- Add the Kabocha and stock, and bring to a boil, then turn your heat down to low.
- Simmer the soup for 10 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, scoop the cream off the top of the coconut milk and reserve.
- Once the soup has been simmering for 10 minutes, add the rest of the coconut milk, and simmer for a few minutes more.
- Puree the soup with an immersion blender and taste again for seasoning. If you’d like to add more heat, add another pinch of the Japanese 7-spice.
- When ready to serve, ladle the soup into a serving bowl, and then top with a dollop of the coconut milk and another sprinkle of the Japanese 7-spice.
- Shower the soup with a pinch of Maldon salt which adds great texture and another salty contrast to balance the sweetness of the soup.
- Leftover soup can be refrigerated for a few days, and is great as a make-ahead dish for Thanksgiving dinner.