One of the best parts of the fall and winter seasons is the abundance of squashes at the farmer’s markets and grocery stores. I love to add them to soups, roast them for salads and even cook them in desserts. kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, is one of my absolute favorites to work with. It has a pleasant sweet flavor, like a sweet potato, but a much creamier texture. In the cold months, I enjoy kabocha squash most often in a soup, with some pork spare ribs. My kabocha squash soup can be made completely in a slow cooker or Crock Pot too, which is perfect for those busy days.
You’ll find a lot of recipes online of kabocha squash soup cooked like regular pumpkin soup: blended. I like canh sườn bí đỏ because the squash (bí đỏ) chunks stay whole, so you can taste the contrast between the sweet, creamy squash and the rich pork rib broth. I also think the green and orange colors are beautiful! Kabocha squash is pretty hard to slice, so I never go through the trouble of taking off the skin, which is relatively thin and tender once cooked.
The process to make this soup is similar to another Crock Pot soup recipe on the blog that uses pork spare ribs. In this version, I use potatoes and carrots instead of squash.
You will need:
- 1 lb (500g) pork spare ribs
- 2 cloves (5g) garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, minced (10g)
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 6 cups (420 ml) water
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2.5 lb (1kg) kabocha squash, deseeded and chopped
🥬 How to pick a kabocha squash
Find a deep green squash that feels heavy for its size. An orange or yellow “blush” spot is a good sign that the squash was given time to ripen before being picked. Check the squash for any brown/black spots, which could indicate rot. Again, the squash should be a ibrant deep green, not brownish.
Begin by par boiling your spare ribs. I’ve talked extensively about par boiling. It gets rid of the scum and yields a cleaner, clearer broth. Add your spare ribs to some room temp water and throw in a handful of salt (about a tablespoon will do). Turn on the stove and take the ribs off the heat once it comes to a boil.
See all that gross grey stuff that floated to the top? We don’t want any of that in our soup.
Rinse the ribs under running water and add the ribs to a slow cooker with the garlic, shallot, water and pepper. Cook on high for an hour and a half or on low for three.
After an hour or two, add the kabocha squash chunks to the slow cooker. Continue to cook on high for another hour or on low for another two hours.
When the squash is fork tender, or a knife easily pierces the orange flesh, your soup is ready. Serve with a hot bowl of white rice!
💭 Tips and substitutions
Use a cleaver or a pestle to help you break open the squash. Or find a strong friend! The hardest part will be cutting the squash in half. After that, scooping out the seeds and cutting it into chunks should be easier.
If you don’t want to cook this in a slow cooker, you can cook this on the stove. After par boiling and cleaning the ribs, simmer them on the stove for 30 min before adding the kabocha squash and cooking on medium heat until the squash is fork tender. It won’t take as long on the stove, but your pork may not be as tender.
🍚 Serving suggestions
I notoriously hate mixing my rice into my soup, but this would taste great with steamed rice. The creamy squash is delicious on it’s own as well. Serve yourself an extra large bowl with a salad and you’ve got yourself a meal.
This soup would be a great addition to a traditional Vietnamese family meal. A family meal usually consists of rice (cơm), a vegetable dish (rau), a main protein, (món mặn), and a soup (canh).Try this menu out if you want to try dining the Vietnamese way!
- Rau: Grilled Eggplant With Scallion Oil (Cà Tím Nướng Mỡ Hành)
- Món Mặn: Vietnamese Roasted Chicken (Gà Roti)
- Canh: Crock Pot Kabocha Squash Soup With Pork Spare Ribs (Canh Sườn Bí Đỏ)
Or, mix and match recipes on this blog to create your own Vietnamese family meal.
🥡 How to store or make in advance
This soup will taste better after it’s reheated, so you can make it one day in advance. It’s easy to set and forget if you’re using a slow cooker, and you can do other things while its cooking.
Store the soup in its pot or an airtight container for up to a week.
👪 Serving size
One kabocha squash and a pound of ribs will make 4 hearty servings of just soup on it’s own. As side dish, it can serve up to 8.
Crock Pot Kabocha Squash Soup With Pork Spare Ribs (Canh Sườn Bí Đỏ)
- 1 lb pork spare ribs (500g)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (5g)
- 1 shallot minced (10g)
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2 ½ lb kabocha squash, deseed and cut into 1 inch chunks (1 kg)
- Par boil your ribs. Add your spare ribs to some room temp water and throw in a handful of salt (about a tablespoon will do). Turn on the stove and take the ribs off the heat once it comes to a boil.
- Rinse the ribs under running water and add the ribs to a slow cooker with the garlic, shallot, water and pepper. Cook on high 1 ½ hours or on low for 3.
- After the 1 ½ – 3 hours is up, add the kabocha squash chunks to the slow cooker. Continue to cook on high for another hour or on low for another 2 hours.
- When the squash is fork tender, or a knife easily pierces the orange flesh, your soup is ready. Serve with a hot bowl of white rice!
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