I despise winter. I am, basically, a solar-powered person. I require sunlight in quantity that i cannot get during the winter. I mean, it gets dark before 6 PM and that is just wrong. (Note: i understand that it gets dark even earlier in my ethnic homeland along Lake Erie, and i do not know how i could have survived such a thing.)
So, what i need to get through this terrible darkness is a good, rich soup. Fortunately, kobacha is cheap this time of year.
Kobacha is also called green pumpkin, and is a common Japanese and southeast asian ingredient. Look for it at your local asian market, although here in Atlanta you can find it at farmer’s markets (like YDFM).
It looks like a pumpkin, only green. It has a thick, rough skin that is, to be honest, a real pain to cut. So for this soup, i hacked the kobacha into rough chunks, then roasted them in the oven for half an hour. After cooling, the skin was able to be cut off rather easily.
1 small kobacha, about 7″ by 4″
4 cloves of garlic (or to taste)
2 tbsp ghee
1 medium onion
2 tsp of Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Broth dissolved in 2 pints of water (or 4 cups of chicken broth or stock)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (about 4 inches)
1 sprig fresh sage
2 tsp Sambar powder
3 cups of water
1. Roughly chop kobacha and arrange on a cookie sheet, along with whole garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
2. Roast at 350 F for 30 minutes, flipping everything over halfway through.
3. Remove from oven and let cool.
4. When it is cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes, use a spoon to scoop the kobacha flesh from the rind. You don’t need to get all of the rind off, but you want most of it removed. The rind is not bad for you, but it is tough and untasty. Once you have it peeled, chop the kobacha into relatively small pieces.
5. Mince the onion and saute in ghee until it just starts to caramelize (turn brown). Then add in the garlic and the kobacha.
6. Dissolve the BTB NCB in 2 pints (4 cups) of lukewarm water and add it to the pot. Alternately, you can use chicken broth or stock. Mushroom stock might be good here too. You just need about 4 cups of flavorful liquid. I added in 3 more cups (1.5 pints) of plain water to fill my pot. If you want it richer, add less water.
7. Add in the minced herbs and Sambar powder. (I used Sambar because i have some that has a nice cinnamon content, which i thought would go well with the sweetness of the kobacha. However, other curry powders would be good here. A nice Bombay curry would be good, as would some North African Harissa.) Give it a good stir, and put the lid on the pot. Lower the heat to about 1/3 of the total range, and wait until it boils.
8. Boil for about half an hour covered, then remove the lid and let some of the liquid boil off. How much is up to you — this will be a brothy soup, but rich in flavor. If you want it less brothy, boil until half of the liquid is gone.
I thought this was a nice soup to have on a chilly, dark evening. There was a hint of the heat of the Sambar powder, and that paired nicely with the sweetness of the kobacha. Making it this way, there were chunks of kobacha, but much of it had dissolved to make the rich broth. If you want it smooth rather than chunky, a few seconds with an immersion blender after it is done cooking should do the trick.
I served the soup with a nice, spongy ciabatta that soaked up the broth. Minos thought that rice in the soup might have been nice as well (or even a little tomato or ribbons of spinach).