This isn’t just your everyday, run-of-the-mill, seasonally inappropriate squash soup. No, ma’am. This Smoky Grilled Kabocha Squash Soup with Chickpeas has some next level depth of flavor going on. First it’s a bit smoky, then a bit sweet, but completely savory, with a hint of spicy. It’s got it all!
Cooking with vegetables requires some attention to seasonality. It’s not that we can’t get pretty much any type of product at any time of year anymore, but in terms of flavor, quality, and price, it helps to know what’s growing when.
However, there’s another type of seasonality that folks like me who live in extreme weather climates need to pay attention to, and that’s knowing what kitchen equipment you want to avoid using at certain times of year. In particular, the oven.
Roasting vegetables in the oven is probably my favorite way to prepare them. It’s quick, requires little attention, and if you get the heat cranked up really high, you get the most delicious caramelization that takes the most boring of root veggies to the next level.
But when it’s threatening to be 110 degrees outside, it’s difficult to rationalize cranking up the oven to 425 degrees; giving the already overworked AC has something else to grapple with.
Enter the outdoor grill. Or exit to the outdoor grill, I should say. Sure it will require you to go outside into the sweltering heat, but I promise that it’s just for a few moments, and your thermostat will thank you.
All of this talk about seasonality and seasonal appropriateness gets thrown out the door, however, when I tell you that this recipe is for a warm and comforting soup, whose star ingredient is a winter squash.
But that’s OK!
Grill your veggies the night before when it’s a bit cooler outside. Blend up the soup for breakfast the next day before things have a change to heat up. you’re golden.
Or, just turn your AC down (or is it up?) to 60 degrees, thrown on some fluffy socks and a cozy blanket, curl-up in front of your favorite Netflix series, and dive into a warm comforting bowl of this Smoky Grilled Squash and Chickpea Soup.
Admittedly the ingredient list for this dish seems long, but it’s really not that bad.
- Kabocha squash – I love kabocha. It’s pretty much the only squash I buy on a regular basis. I’ve also tested this recipe with kuri squash, and I know that it’ll work with (peeled) butternut squash. In the end, you just need 1 lb of cut-up squash. Will canned pumpkin work? You betcha. Just skip the blending step, and adjust the amount of water.
- Water or veggie broth – To puree the grilled squash, you need some sort of liquid. Water is good. Broth is better. I also add bouillon to this dish, so using water in this step is fine.
- Sesame oil – I’ve been cooking with a ton of sesame oil. This is just to reiterate the Asian flavors of this dish. Don’t have it? Don’t worry about it. Just use olive oil.
- Chili crisp or Sichuan chili oil – Your boy loves things spicy. I keep a jar of homemade chili oil on hand at all times (my recipe HERE). A fairly new ingredient that I’ve been keeping stocked in the pantry is “chili crisp”, which is essentially just chili oil with all of the chili flakes left in. Don’t love heat? Just use a neutral oil instead. Love heat? Go to town!
- Onion – Use whatever onion you have on hand. I love a sweet onion, so that’s pretty much what I always use.
- Carrot – Carrot adds a bit of sweetness and depth to the dish once it’s been slightly caramelized. Not a fan of cooked carrots, but a Stan for the flavor they bring to the party, I like to finely grate my carrots with a box grater so I get their essence without much of their presence.
- Green curry paste – This is the star of the show. Most of our flavor comes from this ingredient right here. Don’t have it? Sub in another color of Thai curry paste, or even experiment with a bit of your favorite curry powder.
- Full fat coconut milk – Adding to the richness that the squash provides, coconut milk adds a slight coconut flavor that compliments the curry paste, but it also makes the soup super creamy. Because this grilled soup is a bit “brown”, I like to lighten it up a bit by drizzling some reserved coconut milk on top just before serving.
- “No Chicken” flavored Better Than Bouillon – I use this ingredient like it’s my job. It brings so much flavor and umami to anything that you add it to. The “No Chicken” flavor is quite hard to find though, so you can use the vegetable or roasted garlic flavors instead, or just use whatever vegan bouillon you have on hand. Of course, you can just use vegetable broth instead of water, and you won’t need any of this stuff.
- Sugar or sweetener – Thai dishes are brought to life with just a pinch of sugar. I use a vegan granulated sugar, but you could use whatever sweetener you have on hand.
- Liquid smoke – When I wanted to try out a smoker that I had just inherited, I used the only vegetable that I had on hand at the time: kuri squash. Not knowing what to do with a whole smoked squash, I decided to turn it into a soup. The rest, as they say, is this recipe. Figuring that most people don’t have a smoker on hand, I retooled this recipe for the common outdoor grill. If you can’t smoke it, then just add liquid smoke at the end. It’s not the same, but it’s a good compromise.
- Creamy unsweetened peanut butter – Yup. Peanut butter. It adds a richness and depth to this dish that you’ll miss if it’s gone. And yes, could could sub in almond butter or tahini..
- Chickpeas – When a dish is pretty much all vegetables, I like to “beef” things up with a bit of protein. Pretty much any bean will work in this soup, but chickpeas have a great body and texture. Cook them from dry, or just open-up a can.
- Frozen peas – Nobody has fresh peas, and frozen are just as good. These add a bit of sweetness, textur, color and of course protein to this dish.
- Frozen corn – Like the peas, but with less protein.
- Lemon juice – Since this soup is so rich and deep, a bit of acid at the end helps to lighten things up. It doesn’t read “LEMON”, but it definitely lifts the other flavors up.
- Balsamic reduction – Just like the lemon juice, a bit of balsamic reduction helps to lift the flavors of this dish up. It also makes the top look rather pretty. Don’t have it? Make it. Put about a cup of balsamic vinegar in a pan, let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until it’s reduced by about ½ to ¾, and leaves a line when you drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan.
- Fresh cilantro and green onion – Use your favorite fresh herbs to add a bit of color and freshness to the top of the soup.
In the video, I also added a bunch of chopped up grilled veggies to the soup. Those veggies were actually leftover from THIS RECIPE. If I had it to do all over again, I would have written this recipe to include those grilled vegetables. So, if you make this soup, just know that it’s amazing as-is, but if you decide to throw in some grilled zucchini, eggplant, and red pepper, you will be very happy with yourself. Just saying…
Check out the video below to see in real-time (minus the grilling of the squash) just how easy this grilled soup is to make. Then scroll down to the bottom to see the full printable recipe.
Smoky Grilled Kabocha Squash Soup with Chickpeas
Rich, smokey, sweet, spicy, and savory, this hearty squash and bean soup takes advantage of your outdoor grill so that you can enjoy the comfort of a warm bowl of soup without heating up your entire kitchen.
- 1 lb seeded and chopped kabocha squash, butternut squash, or kuri squash
- 2 to 2 ½ cups water or low sodium veggie broth
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon chili crisp or sichuan chili oil, plus more for serving
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 carrot, finely chopped or grated
- 2 ounces green curry paste
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) full fat coconut milk (reserve ¼ cup for serving)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons No Chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon, vegan bouillon, or mushroom broth powder (enough to make 3 cups of broth)
- 1 tablespoon sugar or sweetener of choice
- ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke (if not using a smoker)
- 1 tablespoon creamy unsweetened peanut butter
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
- ½ lemon, juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
- balsamic reduction
- fresh cilantro
Heat your outdoor grill, smoker, or oven to about 425 degrees F.
Cut your squash in half and remove the seeds. For easier cooking, cut the squash into 2 to 3 inch chunks. Drizzle the quash with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, with the lid on, flipping occasionally, or until the squash is perfectly cooked, evenly charred, and fork tender.
In a blender, blend the cooked squash with 2 cups of water. If it's too thick to blend smoothly, add more water until it can easily puree. Set aside.
To a large pot on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon chili crisp. Add the onions and carrots, and saute until softened and starting to brown. Add curry paste and cook for a minute or two until very fragrant and just starting to brown. Turn the head down to medium, and carefully pour in the pureed squash and coconut milk. When the mixture begins to simmer, stir in peanut butter, bouillon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add chickpeas ,frozen peas, and corn and continue to simmer for another minute, just until everything is heated through. Turn off the heat, and add lemon juice.
To serve, fill a bowl with soup, drizzle with balsamic reduction, reserved coconut milk, and chili oil to taste. Sprinkle on fresh cilantro, green onion, and toasted sesame seeds.