Kabocha Squash and Chestnut Soup with Kale Sesame Crisps

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 1 vote

Kabocha squash and chestnut soup is creamy, vegan, and wholesome. The recipe includes a crispy sesame-crusted kale chip garnish.

An overhead shot of kabocha squash and chestnut soup, garnished with crispy kale chips. There are two bowls of the light orange soup on a white linen background. Ripped pieces of bread are placed to the side.
An overhead shot of “At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen” cookbook on a table in dim lighting.
4 photos in a grid: 1 of chestnuts in a copper pot being covered with water, one up close shot of a red sage plant, one shows a pot of chestnuts submerged in water up close, and the last one shows a halved kabocha squash with diced squash on the side.
A wide shot of trees turning to their autumnal colours of orange and yellow against a light blue sky.

Perhaps you have an inclination already, but I have a lot of cookbooks. There’s a built-in bookcase wall in our office upstairs with at least a hundred stored away, always within reach for reference. We have a little shelf-style cabinet in the kitchen for a small rotation of cookbooks or magazines that I’m particularly enjoying at the moment–for inspiration or outright line-by-line recipe following.

I’ve had Amy Chaplin’s cookbook At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen for about a month and it travels with me all over the house. As soon as it arrived, I ripped the box open on my porch and flipped through it right there. First it sat on my coffee table, readily available for browsing while I caught up with the news. It sat on my desk in the office as a relevant distraction while I edited photos or worked on other projects. Now, it has a permanent home in my kitchen bookshelf. It’s full of recipes to better your own connection to food, but also ones that are special enough to bring your people together for nourishment.

I’ve always trusted Amy’s voice on her blog. Her work and style makes perfect sense on a different level of awareness. I love when a book lies at a very particular intersection, the one that joins beauty/inspiration, practicality, and knowledge/curiosity. This is a vegetarian cookbook that I will refer to for the rest of my life! There are breakdowns of pantry staples, recipes you can make from those staples, whole meals, salads, and desserts. It’s a vision of healthy living that is complete, accessible and inspiring.

I made the kabocha and chestnut soup since we’re in the season for those things. The ingredient list is pretty minimal, which I love. Just buttery roasted chestnuts enhancing the sweetness of the squash and a little finish of tamari to keep it perfectly savoury. We had it with some potato and herb focaccia for dinner the other night. Just right, but especially good because of the crunchy “leaves” on top. I love a whimsical and seasonal touch that evokes the goings-on of the outdoors in my food. It’s all about connection!

More soup inspiration to be had here, and another great recipe (smoky stewed white beans and greens) from Amy’s latest cookbook can be found here.

An up close, overhead shot of kale crisps coated in sesame seeds on a parchment lined baking tray.
An overhead shot of roasted and peeled chestnuts on a black metal sheet pan.
An 3/4 angle shot of kabocha squash and chestnut soup, garnished with crispy kale chips. There are two bowls of the light orange soup on a white linen background. Ripped pieces of bread are placed to the side.
An overhead shot of kabocha squash and chestnut soup, garnished with crispy kale chips. There are two bowls of the light orange soup on a white linen background. Ripped pieces of bread are placed to the side.

Kabocha Squash and Chestnut Soup with Kale Sesame Crisps

Kabocha squash and chestnut soup is creamy, vegan, and wholesome. The recipe includes a crispy sesame-crusted kale chip garnish.
5 from 1 vote
kabocha + roasted chestnut soup w/ kale sesame "leaves" // via @thefirstmess
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6



  • 1 lb chestnuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 7 cups filtered water
  • 1 large sage sprig
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • ground black pepper, to taste

Kale Sesame Crisps

  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds



  • From Amy Chaplin’s At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen
  • Amy’s original recipe calls for sheets of nori seaweed brushed with a mirin + sesame oil mixture brushed on top for the “leaves.” I only used kale because in the midst of throwing this together, I realized that I didn’t have any nori! Anyway if you have nori, you can tear the sheets into pieces and brush them with a mix of the following: 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp mirin + 1 tsp sesame oil. Sprinkle the nori with sesame seeds and bake in a 300 F oven for 8 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through.


  • Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  • Place the chestnuts flat side down on the cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut a little slit into the top of each one. Place the cut chestnuts into a medium sauce pan and cover them with filtered water. Bring them to a boil and then drain. Transfer drained chestnuts to a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until shells are coming away from the innards. Once cool enough to handle, peel chestnuts and set aside, discarding the shells.
  • Lower the oven heat to 400°F. Wipe out the sheet pan used for the chestnuts. Tear kale leaves into slightly larger than bite-size pieces. Drizzle them with the olive oil and maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Toss and massage the leaves until they are thoroughly coated. Arrange them in a single layer and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Slide the tray into the oven and bake for about 7-8 minutes, or until the kale has crisped and curled up just a little bit. Remove the kale crisps from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until quite soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. To the pot, add the salt, squash, chestnuts, water, sage, and bay leaves. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Carefully purée the soup in batches in a blender, and then return the blended soup to the large pot. Add tamari, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring the blended soup back up to a boil. Serve hot with kale sesame leaves
An overhead shot of kabocha squash and chestnut soup, garnished with crispy kale chips. There are two bowls of the light orange soup on a white linen background. Ripped pieces of bread are placed to the side.
29/10/2014 (Last Updated 09/02/2023)
Posted in: autumn, creamy, earthy, gluten free, grain-free, kale, main course, quick, refined sugar-free, salty, soup, spring, summer, sweet, umami, vegan, winter


5 from 1 vote

Recipe Rating

  • Kelly

    5 stars
    I swear by this recipe and many variations of it every time fall comes around. The chestnuts are easily swapped for some kind of activated nuts or seeds, or even any kind of milk for a quicker version. Another winner!

  • Almostveg

    Could you please let me know the weight of the squash or number of cups.

  • Catherine

    this looks lovely. seriously!

    but I am 1.5 hours in and all I’ve gotten through is “peel[ing], seed[ing] + cut[ting] into 3/4 inch dice” and roasting and peeling about half of my chestnuts…

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Catherine, it’s true that this one is a bit labour intensive–I find anything with hard winter squash tends to be this way. This time of year, you can find pre-roasted chestnuts at markets to help with prep time a bit. Also, instead of peeling and dicing a kabocha, you could definitely use the pre-peeled + cut butternut squash that they sometimes sell at grocery stores to save time.

  • erin {yummy supper}

    Laura, you’ve outdone yourself on this one. The photos… OMG stunning, luscious and totally mouthwatering.
    And yep, I need to get my hands on Amy’s book. Looks awesome!

  • Kristen @ enjoythisorganiclife

    YUM! I loved the locally grown hazelnuts when I was living in Ontario. I was making some of the most deliciously rich hazelnut milks! This soup looks wonderful :) xo

  • Amaryllis

    Can’t wait to try this, it seems like the perfect winter soup! (love your blog, btw)

  • Kelsey

    My favourite is a toasted spelt and escarole soup recipe from Bon Appetit. Or a miso and soba noodle soup I recently tried. I love soup/stews so much it’s hard to choose.
    I already had your morrocan stew on my to try list. Hearing it’s one of your favourites a year later makes me excited to try it!

  • Jeni

    This soup looks amazing. This fall I’ve been craving vegetarian tortilla soup. I also love sweet potato and peanut stew this time of year.

  • Lori

    This time of year I love anything warm and hearty. Lentil soups and any kind of stew are my favorites.

  • Amanda

    I LOVE te adzuki bean and kombucha squash stew with Kale! Simple. Warm. Roasted. Perfect for sweater weather!

  • Britt

    Love your site and colorful, healthy, tasty recipes and musings. My go-to soup this time of year is creamy tomato soup with fire roasted tomatoes and thyme. Served with grilled cheese, no less.

  • Connielavelle

    Just made the soup. Love the flavor and the slightly sweet kale. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nickie Gorsky

    My fall into winter go to is Ayurvedic Dal. Rich with chana or masoor dal, veggies, fresh ginger, curry, ghee, green onions, raisins, tomato paste and coconut milk topped with cilantro. It will carry you through the season on wings of love and good health!

  • Nicole

    Wow I really like the way you combine your photo’s and recipes!

  • charj

    My current favorite is vegan Cincinnati chili

  • giedre

    I love the simplicity of pumpkin soup

  • Lacey

    This soup looks to die for. Yum. My favorite soup lately was a pumpkin ginger apple soup made extra creamy with coconut milk from love and lemons! But really, I love all {vegan} soup this time of year.

  • Anze

    I’ve been making a sweet potato & chikpea curry over and over and over all this year. I find it so incredibly creamy and sweet and salty and perfect served with some millet or brown rice. I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite recipe of all times, all doe I haven’t shared it yet :) Thank you for the recipe tho!

  • Heather Taylor

    Gosh, I love all kinds of soups and stews and it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ve been craving Chicken Tortilla Soup!

  • Linzy

    I love the foods of fall so much. The mixture of subtle sweetness and savory drives me wild. I currently have about 20 squashes sitting on my back porch, just begging to be used.
    As for my favorite dish, I would have to say it’s sweet potato and peanut stew. I mix together sweet potatoes, jarred tomatoes, seared tofu, peanut butter, and a bunch of African spices into one stew. It’s great because I generally have all of the ingredients in my pantry, and peanut butter just makes me happy.
    Best of luck to you

  • The Peace Patch

    Today my favorite onepot wonder is spicy tomato chickpea casserole with crushed Beanfields chips…yumza!

  • Ariela

    Hi Laura!

    My favorite one pot/soup/stew at this time of year has got to be a hearty, sweet, and satisfying combination of kabocha squash (the best!), golden turmeric, and miso, plus a medley of seasonal vegetables/greens and my favorite legume of the week. I keep the soup one part whole, one part pureed to keep the texture interesting and exciting. Eaten by a fire with some French music playing, and I’m in my happy cozy zone.

  • Mickie

    My mom’s butternut squash soup is my favorite. I can’t wait to have it this Thanksgiving.

    Your blog is so beautiful. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. Thank you!

  • Natasha

    My favorite one pot meal is my spicy sweet potato soup. I tend to just throw in whatever sounds good at the time – usually tomatoes, carrots, maybe parsnips, and I finish it with coconut milk. It’s so good!

  • amy

    hi! beautiful pictures :) my go to soup is a simple one of potatoes, carrots, whole garlic cloves, lots of tumeric and maybe a few other ingredients … :)

  • Florence

    In the winter months I crave stews- a coconut & chickpea hotpot with spices, spinach and a spoonful of peanut butter or a sweet potato and lentil veggie “shepherd’s pie”!!

  • Heather

    I love a nice, thick meatless chili, made with plenty of beans.