It’s neither Vegan or even Vegetarian so perhaps I missed the mark a bit but it is dairy free
A few weeks ago, I went to the Covid downsized Culver City Farmer’s Market with a friend. I picked up some veggies regardless of cost because I am just flush enough to do so as long as it does not become a habit. I really do like to support local growers and producers, but the cost is not something I can sustain given the current employment picture.
Thanksgiving was looming and there on a table was a beautiful 5.5 ish lb organic, heritage breed, spoon fed, politically correct kabocha squash. One could practically hear Tibetan Bells. The Kabocha or Japanese pumpkin is my preferred winter squash for pie so regardless of the cost, it went home with me, barely fitting in my backpack. I am sure this was not the mode of travel it was used to but one must adapt.
As the traditional American food feast day got closer, I decided to not make pie with current restrictions on gatherings. Perhaps something else will do. My recent purchase of an Instant Pot Viva with it’s pressure cooking feature seemed destined to see use. I have never used a pressure cooker on a squash so to the web. I found this post at flouronmyface that was helpful. https://flouronmyface.com/instant-pot-kabocha-squash/ I loved the idea of cooking the kabocha without having to struggle with the chore of cutting it first. Unfortunately, I have a 6 quart Instant Pot and would have needed perhaps the 8 quart for this particular fruit.
The plan went on hold until my next trip to the local grocery mega-mart where a much smaller kabocha with a much lower price point whispered to me from the bin. At $2.71, if I didn’t like the end result it was not such a big deal as having $14 go into the trash bin and I don’t have the ability to compost.
Back in my kitchen, I gave the diminutive (2.7 lb) squash a good wash and set up the IP. I had tested the pressure cook feature with water only to make sure it had a good seal but this was the first real use with food. I poured 1 cup of water into the insert and added the wire steamer trivet. The kabocha fit easily inside. The top was sealed and pot set to high pressure for the recommended 14 minutes. When the pot signaled it’s finished cycle, I released the pressure and gave the squash a poke test. Still a bit firm, I resealed the lid and added 4 minutes. That was enough to leave the kabocha in several pieces and looked to have been exploded.
The insert was very hot but I was able to lift the trivet out with the help of my small ½ ounce ladle handle. After time to cool, I easily (relatively) peeled off the skin to harvest the meat of the fruit. The skin does come off easily, but one still has to do a bit a scraping to get most of the good stuff and there are small bits of green skin to pick out.
A recipe for pumpkin soup at Noshtastic caught my eye with a spice mix of cumin, ginger and tumeric along with friends onion plus garlic. It also called for coconut milk which works for my lactose intolerant friend. In my fridge was some reduced chicken stock from the last poach and a can of coconut milk was somewhere in the cabinet.
Caramelized onions are almost always ready made so I pulled down the blender and loaded it up. Even with a good amount of stock and coconut milk, my cheap blender struggled but eventually got the job done with some coaxing. The time spent created an extremely creamy, thick, rich soup which would be good either hot or cold even though I could not find the tumeric. The amount of fresh ginger used gave perhaps a bit too much brightness.
The next day I remembered to pick up more tumeric on my trip to the Halal grocery for lamb shanks to feature on turkey day (we are having no turkey). The addition of just a bit of tumeric in the soup had an amazing effect on the perception of ginger. It was toned down just enough to bring the dish back into balance. This particular change has never been apparent to my taste buds before and I recommend everyone to give it a try.
For our Thanksgiving starter, along with focaccia of course, I made a large batch of pumpkin soup with the premium kabocha. I cut it into quarters and used the Instant Pot to cook it by halves. Still faster than the oven. For a bit of extra richness, I substituted coconut cream for the coconut milk and the food processor instead of the blender. I only have an 11 cup Cuisinart so it did take 3 batches to puree. The finished soup is rich but not quite as smooth as the blender test. I decided not to sieve the soup to remove the last small lumps because I really dislike doing that and it is still quite nice in texture.
For 8 cups of kabocha I used about 3 cups of home made chicken stock and a cup of coconut cream. I would have liked a little more stock to make the finished soup just a bit thinner but I used all I had. More coconut cream would have been too forward. It has been approved by a former fine dining chef and I hope it meets general appreciation tomorrow.
I still have just enough kabocha glop left over for one pie. Stay tuned.
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