Why It Works
- A dashi liquid base adds a deep, savory flavor, but is even easier to make than most other stocks.
- Miso and lemon juice round out the soup's flavor, adding both brightness and richness.
- Soaking the diced apple briefly in salt water prevents browning, meaning you can make the garnish ahead of time.
Most soups based on squash aim to intensify its sweet flavors by first caramelizing its sugars in the oven. Not this one. Inspired by a classic Japanese appetizer, this soup zeroes in on the nutty, earthy flavors of squash by simply simmering it in an aromatic dashi broth.
- 1 1/2 quarts plus 2 cups water, divided, plus more as needed
- 1/2 ounce kombu (approximately a 4- by 6-inch piece; see note)
- 1/2 ounce grated bonito flakes (about 3 cups; see note)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 (1 1/2-inch) knobs ginger, 1 knob peeled and thinly sliced, 1 knob peeled and finely grated, divided
- 1 (2-pound) squash, such as kuri, kabocha, or butternut, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 2 tablespoons white or red miso paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Pinch sugar, if needed
- 1 large crisp apple, such as Fuji, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1 large or 2 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced on the bias
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- Shichimi togarashi, optional (see note)
Combine 1 1/2 quarts water, kombu, and bonito flakes in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a bare simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for 5 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard solids and set dashi aside.
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add leek, carrot, garlic, and sliced ginger. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are glistening and just starting to turn tender, about 4 minutes.
Add squash and pour just enough dashi on top to cover vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook until vegetables are fully tender, about 30 minutes. Using a standing blender or immersion blender, and working in batches if necessary, blend soup until very smooth. Blend in miso and lemon juice.
Return soup to pot and thin with enough water to reach a pourable, silky-smooth consistency. Season with salt, add sugar to taste, and keep warm.
Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Add diced apple and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain apple well, then return to bowl. Toss with grated ginger, scallions, toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Season with salt, if needed.
To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and top with the apple-scallion salad. Garnish with shichimi togarashi, if desired.
Fine-mesh strainer, blender
Kombu and bonito flakes (katsuobushi) can be found in any Japanese market or in the international section of most well-stocked supermarkets. For best results, use real kombu and bonito flakes. Alternatively, you can use powdered dashi mix; follow the instructions on the package. Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese spice blend made with chili powder, dried orange peel, ginger, and black sesame seeds.