If there’s something I miss this time of year, it’s my mom’s Korean pumpkin soup (hobakjuk, in Korean). Pumpkin soup in Korea is quite popular and there are many different variations of it, depending on whose house you go to. This comfort food is a bit sweet, quite thick, and warms your bones. It tastes like home to me, and I remember eating bowl after bowl of this delicious soup on a chilly day.
You might think that the Korean version of pumpkin soup might be much different than a regular pumpkin soup, but it’s actually quite simple. To make an authentic version, you have to use kabocha squash which is the common squash in Korea (and they are my favorite type!). However, if you can’t find it, butternut or acorn squash will suffice.
One thing that sticks out about hobakjuk is that there are these white rice balls, made with sweet rice flour, that are cooked in the soup that are sticky and chewy like mochi. While I do eat rice on occasion, I thought it would be fun to make a grain-free and paleo version of these balls, and they turned out like the real thing!
If you are unfamiliar with sticky rice cakes from Asia, you might not love these balls or it may take time to get used to. If you aren’t into it, feel free to leave them out! The soup itself is delicious on its own. You can also add in meat and other veggies if you choose to, but traditionally, Koreans eat the soup plain on its own. Hope you enjoy this flavorful and healthy soup on chilly days to come!
- 1 medium kabocha squash (about 2-3lbs)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 tbsp tapioca stach
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- Pumpkin seeds and cinnamon, for garnish
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- 3 tbsp potato starch
- 1/4 cup water + more, if needed
- Cut the squash in half, then peel and seed it. Cut the squash into 2 inch pieces.
- Place the squash in a saucepan with 2 cups of water.
- Let the whole thing come to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
- While the squash is simmering, make the "rice" balls using the instructions below.
- Once the squash is cooked through and soft, use an immersion blender to blend everything together until creamy. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can transfer the contents into a regular blender to blend. Bring back to heat.
- In a bowl, whisk together tapioca starch and 1/4 cup of water, then stir the mixture well into the soup to thicken.
- Add salt and honey, and bring back to boil.
- Add rice balls and cook on boil for 5 minutes, while stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat to serve. Top with pumpkin seeds and cinnamon. You can add more salt or honey, to taste, depending on your taste buds.
- In a bowl combine all ingredients and stir until a dough is formed. Add more water if the dough is too dry. Make small balls with the dough, about 1/2 inch wide. Set aside until ready to cook.