Instant Pot Kabocha Squash Soup

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Instant Pot Kabocha Squash Soup is a rich and creamy soup made with Japanese Kabocha squash that has a nice balance of sweet and savory flavors, and is perfect for chilly days.

» First learn how to make a whole Kabocha squash in the Instant Pot.

Kabocha squash soup
 

If you’ve ever made kabocha squash before, you likely already know how tough the skin is. It’s not like other squash that has thin, easy-to-cut-through skin. It can be a challenge, even for the sharpest knife, to get throught it.

That’s why we use the Instant Pot to cook kabocha squash. Because you don’t need to spend any time trying to cut through it. You just put the whole squash in the Instant Pot with some water and cook it under high pressure for 20 minutes.

What you’ll get is a very soft interior covered by skin that has peeled back from the flesh. Now you can easily remove the skin, add it back to the Instant Pot along with the other ingredients, and make a delicious, silky soup.

Why Use An Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. If you don’t have one, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot and the many accessories you can buy for it.

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Ingredients You’ll Need

squash soup ingredients
  • Kabocha squash – When picking one out go for a squash with a solid green color without cuts or bruises. Avoid brown patches or punctures. The size won’t matter greatly, you can adjust the cook time accordingly.
  • Water – You need water in the Instant Pot to help the pot come up to pressure. You’ll use a cup of water in a 6-quart or 1 1/2 cups of water in an 8-quart.
  • Vegetable or chicken broth – Use low-sodium broth to control the salt level.
  • Olive oil – You can use olive oil or any kind of cooking oil you like. I like olive oil because it adds a nice flavor and it’s good for you.
  • Butter – Salted butter adds a nice creamy element to the soup.
  • Onion – You can use olive oil or any kind of cooking oil you like. I like olive oil because it adds a nice flavor and it’s good for you.
  • Garlic – Always use fresh garlic that hasn’t been kept in the refrigerator for too long. This has the best flavor and no bitterness that comes from older garlic.
  • Rosemary – Fresh rosemary adds a great earthy flavor, but if you don’t have it you can use dried rosemary. Use half the amount for dried.
  • Salt – One thing that squash really needs for flavor is salt. You really can’t go without it or you’ll end up with a pretty bland dish.
  • Pepper – Add more or less pepper depending on your heat preference.

Equipment Needed

  • Instant Pot – I use a 6-quart Instant Pot Plus to make all of my recipes. If you’re using an 8-quart pot, you will need to adjust the amount of liquid accordingly, as it requires more than the 6 quart to build steam.
  • Trivet – You’ll want to use the trivet to keep the squash out of the water.
  • Immersion blender – An immersion blender really comes in hand when blending soup in the Instant Pot. If you don’t have one, you can use a blender, but it will be quite a bit more tedious.

What is Kabocha Squash?

a kabocha squash

Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, is a type of winter squash that’s popular in Japanese cuisine. It has a green, bumpy skin on the outside, and its flesh is typically a bright orange color. The flavor of kabocha squash is sweet and nutty, often compared to a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin.

Kabocha squash is rich in beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A in the body. It’s also a good source of fiber, vitamins C and B, iron, and other beneficial nutrients.

It can be prepared in various ways, including roasting, steaming, or using it in soups and stews. In Japanese cuisine, it is often used in dishes like tempura, nimono (simmered dishes), and soups.

When selecting a kabocha squash, you’ll want to look for one that feels heavy for its size and has a firm, dull, and unblemished skin. They can be stored for several weeks in a cool, dry place.

Does Size Matter?

You’ll find that it’s possible to buy very small to rather large kabocha squash in both orange and green colors. You can cook any size kabocha squash in the Instant Pot, as long as it fits! Since it’s all about the same thickness, it cooks at the same time and pressure, no matter how large or small it it.

If you have a rather large squash – above 5 pounds – you can increase the cook time to 22 minutes to make sure it gets done inside.

How to Make Instant Pot Kabocha Squash Soup

Wash and scrub the exterior of the squash to get off any dirt that might be caked on. There is no need to poke or cut the squash in any way. You will be putting it into the Instant Pot whole.

Place the trivet in the Instant Pot inner pot. Pour in 1 cup of water. Set the kabocha squash on the trivet.

kabocha squash in the Instant Pot

Lock the lid and set the vent to sealing. Press the pressure cook button and set the timer to 20 minutes on high pressure. When the time is up, manually release the pressure. If you don’t release the pressure right away, it will continue to cook and might end up a little soggier than you intended it to be.

cooked kabocha squash

Transfer the squash to a cutting board to cool. After a few minutes, you’ll be able to handle the squash so you can peel the skin off, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.

Clean the pot and return it to the machine. Turn on saute mode. Add the oil and when hot, add the onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Turn off saute mode.

kabocha squash in IP

Add the squash and stock to the pot. Secure the lid and set the vent to sealing (if necessary for your model). Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. When done, do a quick release of the pressure.

Add the butter to the pot and let it melt. 

Puree the soup with an immersion blender until silky smooth, about 3 minutes.

pureed soup

Season to taste. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

kabocha squash soup

How to Use Kabocha Squash

  • Soups and Stews: Puree roasted or steamed kabocha squash to create a velvety base for soups. Combine with ingredients like coconut milk, ginger, and curry spices for a flavorful dish.
  • Tempura: Slice the kabocha into thin pieces and deep-fry them in a tempura batter for a crispy Japanese appetizer.
  • Stir-Fries: Cube and sauté kabocha squash with other vegetables, tofu, or meat, and season with soy sauce, garlic, and ginger for a quick stir-fry.
  • Mashed: Steam or boil kabocha squash and mash it with butter, milk, salt, and pepper for a creamy side dish.
  • Salads: Roasted kabocha squash can be added to salads, paired with ingredients like spinach, nuts, cheese, and a tangy vinaigrette.
kabocha squash soup

Tips for Cooking Instant Pot Kabocha Squash

  • There is no need to cut into, poke holes in, or remove the skin from the squash before you cook it. it goes into the Instant Pot whole.
  • Once the squash is cooked, you will be able to easily peel off the skin and scoop out the flesh.
  • Kabocha squash skin is edible and becomes tender when cooked, so you can leave it on in many recipes. If you prefer to remove it, it’s easy to do once it’s cooked.
  • Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy fibers from the center of the squash.
  • Kabocha squash pairs well with various flavors, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and miso. Experiment with different combinations to find what you like best.

Add More Flavor

If you want to add some extra flavor to your squash, you can add spices besides salt and pepper to the flesh of the squash before cooking. Some I like to use are:

  • Seasoned salt
  • Cumin and chili powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cinnamon/sugar for a sweet treat
  • Butter and sage
kabocha squash soup

How to Store Kabocha Squash

Store uncut kabocha squash in a cool, dry place for several weeks. Once cut or cooked, it should be refrigerated and used within a few days.

This is a rather large squash, so you are likely to have some leftovers. That’s great though, because you can use it in so many different ways. Allow the squash to cool completely before storing it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat the skin of a kabocha squash?

Yes, you can eat the skin of the squash. It becomes quite soft as it cooks. However, most people prefer not to eat it. You can easily peel the skin away from the squash after it’s cooked, or you can scoop out the insides as you eat it.

What are the health benefits of kabocha squash?

Kabocha squash is rich in nutrients, but if you’re watching your sugar intake, be mindful of its natural sweetness, especially in dishes where additional sweeteners are used.

How do you soften kabocha squash before cutting?

Kabocha squash is very hard and often times difficult to cut into. You can soften them slightly before cutting by placing the squash in the microwave for 4 minutes to soften the peel, or by briefly boiling it for a few minutes. This will help to loosen the skin and make it easier to peel. You don’t need to cut or peel the squash to cook it in the Instant Pot, however.

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kabocha squash soup

Instant Pot Kabocha Squash Soup

Instant Pot Kabocha Squash is a rich and creamy, sweet and savory soup that's perfect for chilly weather.

Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot

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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 27 minutes
Pressurize Time 20 minutes
Total Time 52 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 152 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 whole kabocha squash make sure it fits in your pot!
  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1/2 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • fresh herbs, for garnish if desired

Instructions
 

  • There is no need to cut the squash. Place it whole on the trivet in the Instant Pot. Pour in 1 cup of water.
  • Secure the lid and set the vent to sealing (if necessary for your model).
  • Set to cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. When done, allow the pressure to release naturally.
  • Carefully pull the trivet with the squash on it out of the Instant Pot. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Peel back the skin, cut in half, and scoop out the seeds.
  • Clean the pot and return it to the machine. Turn on saute mode. Add the oil and when hot, add the onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Turn off saute mode.
  • Add the squash and stock to the pot. Secure the lid and set the vent to sealing (if necessary for your model). Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. When done, do a quick release of the pressure.
  • Add the butter to the pot and let it melt.
  • Puree the soup with an immersion blender until silky smooth, about 3 minutes.
  • Season to taste. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

Notes

  • To make the soup creamier, you can add ¼ to ½ cup of heavy cream after blending.

Nutrition

Calories: 152kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 5gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 404mgPotassium: 666mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2181IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Squash
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