This delicious pumpkin miso soup is quick and easy to prepare. The sweetness of the pumpkin is enhanced by the saltiness of the miso. Dark green kabocha pumpkins are usually available year round in... supermarkets and farmers’ markets. They are a Latino staple and can often be found in Hispanic markets as calabaza. If you can’t find one use butternut squash instead, but be sure to peel it, as its skin is less delicate than that of kabocha.
With a peeler, take off little patches of skin all over the pumpkin halves until they look polka dotted. This is purely decorative and can be left out if you don’t have time. Cut the halves into a ½-inch dice. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over a medium-high heat. When it ripples, add the onion and saute, stirring until the onion starts to soften and turn transparent. Add the pumpkin cubes, sprinkle with a little sea salt, mix well, and cover. Turn the heat down to medium low and sweat the vegetables for about 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin has started to soften and the onion is soft. The onion should not brown, so stir the pot occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick.
Add enough stock to the pot to cover the vegetables plus 1 inch. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer until the pumpkin is soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook! While the soup is cooking, measure the miso into a bowl. Using a small balloon whisk or a fork, gradually whisk in ½ cup of warm stock or cool water until you have a thinnish, creamy-looking liquid with no lumps.
When the pumpkin is tender, add a grind or two of black pepper and turn off the heat. Add the miso cream little by little, stirring gently to mix. Taste as you go until you know how much you like. Miso is richly salty, so you do not want too much in the soup. Check for seasoning. Serve immediately.
Miso is a fermented soybean product that is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Look for it in Asian groceries or health food stores that sell macrobiotic products. There are several different kinds of miso, ranging from rich brown barley miso, to red, to sweet yellow ‘white’ miso. As a rule of thumb, the darker the color the stronger the flavor.
Beware: Don’t boil miso. It loses its nutrients when boiled, so take care not to overheat your soup once the miso is in.
If you are having oral problems such as cankers or post radiation dryness, this delicious soup can be pureed by whizzing a couple of cupfuls in a blender for easier swallowing. Let the soup cool somewhat before eating.