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


Recipe Rating

  • S Lauren | Modern Granola

    My favorite stew is anything with sweet potatoes or butternut squash!
    Your photography is just perfect. Seriously, and the recipe looks incredible. I haven’t tried chestnuts in a soup before, so I am looking forward to trying the recipe out soon! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jane

    Pumpkin and sweet potato soup

  • MBridges

    North African sweet potato stew with coconut milk, cilantro and chiles. Rich, satisfying and flavorful!!

  • Eileen

    This soup sounds so rich and satisfying! My favorite one-pot fall dish is probably a huge vat of pasta fagioli — hearty and delicious and bursting with lots of veg. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  • Heather

    Lentil soup, mexican style, loaded down with dried chile paste, cumin, mushrooms, onions, and big chunks of tomato. OR your lovely mushroom and chickpea ragout….I swoon at the thought.

  • Abby

    Marcella Hazan’s chickpea and rice soup. It is more of a stew/very loose risotto, but it is 100% comforting and delicious. Made with arborio rice, tomatoes that cook down into a glossy tomato oil, rosemary, and chickpeas, it cooks quickly and can easily be a pantry meal. I’ve even made it over a campfire! Delicious, delicious, delicious.

  • Dusty

    I have never heard of Kabocha but am excited to try it. I love any kind of squash and have just made my first pumpkin/butternut squash soup this very day. Great idea to add kale. I’m hungry just reviewing all these comments. Great ideas ladies.

  • jaime : the briny

    this soup looks incredible. i’ve never had roasted chestnuts but i’d like to change that as soon as possible and this looks like a perfect way to goa bout it.

    i admire your mindfulness so much. i love that you have a different places for different cookbooks and i really appreciate the thoughtfulness with which you interact and describe amy’s book. it’s a beautiful endorsement.

    i don’t think i have a favorite fall one-pot jam but one oft-recurring staple is a simple red lentil dal. it happens around here almost weekly.

  • Kate

    Cooking with chestnuts tends to intimidate me! But will definitely try this soup! I only came across Amy’s blog in the last year or so. Her thai lentil soup/stew with coconut milk, lemongrass, warming ginger and some kaffir lime leaves (if handy) is delicious! You can mix it up with different veggies. Nice and versatile recipe:)

  • Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming

    chili! with alll the veggies and quinoa and beans and maybe some pumpkin puree!

  • Kim

    I’ve really been enjoying thai flavors in chunky stews this fall: my current favorite is red lentil-lentil lemongrass with sweet potato, spinach, corn and a touch of miso at the end.

  • Beth

    My favorite one-pot meal is split pea soup. So hearty! And it makes for great leftovers to keep me warm at lunch throughout the week.

  • Bouncingsonia

    Wow this soup sounds amazing using a combination of foods I would have never thought. Around this time of the year, when it starts to get cold here in montreal, I love to make split pea soup. I made a big pot just last weekend. So comforting.

  • Dani

    My most favorite one pot meal for this season is a hearty bowl of borscht. You just can’t beat it.

  • Lauren P.

    This recipe looks delish. My go-to soup for autumn and winter is a garlic squash soup that’s been passed down through the generations in my family. No recipe – done by memory and taste :)

  • Cate Capsais

    I can’t get enough of my roommate’s butternut squash soup! The basics- a whole, oven roasted butternut squash, a can of coconut milk, veggie broth, cumin, cayenne, rosemary, all boiled together and pureed with an immersion blender! I top with toasted pepitas or roasted chickpeas. YUM. It’s gone before anyone even dreams of leftovers!

  • Jennifer

    This looks beautiful! As for one-pot meals, is there anything better than butternut squash bisque with roasted chickpea croutons?

  • Shannon

    I adore curried carrot soup this time of year. Even better, it was a banner year for my garden carrots, so I just pull a few from the ground whenever I want. I love the bright orange color and delicious flavors of curry, ginger, and tumeric.

  • Sara

    You can never, ever, go wrong with the classic leek & potato soup. It’s always the first one pot meal I make when the cooler weather hits because there’s something so grounding and warming about it. Either rustically chopped or blended. The first recipe I ever used was Jamie Oliver’s leek & potato soup and it also makes an excellent base for whatever you’ve got in the fridge. Favourite additions being white beans & kale or simply amped up with coconut milk or cashew cream.

  • Sarah Moncks

    I love having homemade Cream of Tomato Soup with Garlic Croutons! Tomato soup is one of my favourite meals!

  • Kris

    Laura, you’re totally right. That book looks amazing! Also, I’m really interested in trying this soup recipe, simply because I’ve never added chestnuts to soup. The combination sounds bang-on! One of my favourite soups this time of year is also a kabocha squash soup. It’s one that I entered into a contest at school (and was a finalist for) last year. It has harissa and orange in it, and it’s perfectly spiced. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about putting it on the blog in the next couple of weeks, actually. :) Gorgeous photos, as always. xxoo

  • Kate

    At this time of year, I look forward to mushroom barley soup with carrots, parsnips, and dill. You can make it with vegetable broth or beef stock… either way it’s so hearty and full of promise for the season of comfort food ahead. Love it!

  • thefolia

    Oops almost missed the details of the giveaway. I have to agree with you the Moroccan-style stew with sweet potatoes and chickpeas is unbeatable for me. I cannot get enough of sweet potatoes (I have been eating them practically everyday!) and you can never go wrong with chickpeas…simply delicious!

  • thefolia

    Nothing messy about this dish…simply beautiful! Happy Nesting.

  • Erika

    Woo! My favorite one-pot winter meal would have been a giant pot of quinoa chili, thick and spicy with adobo peppers and three types of beans…but last week I just tried making Japanese curry for the first time, and I have to say that it might be my new favorite. I made a gluten-free curry roux, sweetened the whole mess of carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and peas with grated apple and ate it over brown rice and quinoa. So satisfying! Thanks for doing this giveaway and I adore your beautiful photos as always!

  • myriam / rhubarb! rhubarb! rhubarb!

    I love soups and stews so much. My current favourite is Sarah Britton’s creamy broccoli soup.

  • alwayshungry

    Mushrooms, Pumkins and Chestnuts!!!!
    My three fall favorits!
    A actually made a version of this soup last night, it was delicious!!
    In the fall I really do love a good bowl of creamy/ earthy mushroom soup with some nice crusty bread on the side.

    I just descovered you blog through Earthsproot and I’m really looking forward to going through all your old posts!
    Yeah!!! :D
    Thank you for the giveaway it would be totally awesome to have this book one day!…I live in France but I have family in the US that could reception any potential win for me, hint, hint, hint! ;)

    Thanks in any case!!! I’m so exited to get to know your work, so far: beautifull.

    Have a fabulous day!!

  • Sonja

    Fall stews and soups are my favourite meals. I love big bowls of earthy warmness so choosing a favourite is very hard. I probably would have to go with something based on coconut and curry spices with lots of great fall veggies thrown in – yams, brussel sprouts etc AND of course I am mad for chickpeas so they would be in there somewhere.

  • Amy (Wooden Spoon Baking)

    Love those kale leaves! I was just thinking about a topping for a roasted garlic & white bean soup–these would do the trick, especially w/ a little nutritional yeast. Yum.

  • Stacy

    What a lovely tribute to this book – I keep hearing such good things about this one. I have been loving a simple ribollita or even simpler bread soup this autumn – so cozy and wholesome and easy to throw together with whatever is on hand. But I do love that Moroccan stew you mention! I will have to make that soon, too.

    Laura: Stacy, I’ve been really into ribollita too! It’s become a weekly thing in our house ;)

  • Sofia

    Beautiful soup + pictures :)
    My one-pot fave is lentil soup. I do all sorts of seasonal combos of ingredients/flavours. It’s so hearty and delicious!

  • Tessa Dillon

    Well, here I am shamelessly commenting because I am really hoping to win that cookbook!! Being a retired person now on a fixed income does rather curtail my spending! I have to say I have many one pot, warming favorites but the soup I made this last weekend may just be my go-to favorite now. My husband and I were out in the rain and cold doing chores outdoors (we live in the country and have a small property with two horses) and when we came in for lunch we needed something warm but it needed to be on the table relatively fast – we were hungry!!! So I looked in the fridge and realized I had the ingredients for a soup – left over zucchini that had been partially mandolined(sp??) for a previous recipe, plus one rather old zucchini, some onion, garlic, a small can of coconut milk, frozen broth in the freezer. I sauteed the onion and garlic, then added curry spice, cumin, coriander, salt and continue to gently saute. Added the chopped zucchini and sauteed til soft (the broth was in the microwaves, thawing while this was going on) Broth and coconut milk were added and simmered – pureed til somewhat smooth/still chunky, then grilled bread, torn and put in the bottom of the bowls, soup poured over and voila!! we were in heaven! My husband had grilled baguette and I had gluten free bread grill. It was hot and nourishing and sooooo good! The best part was that it truly was a left-over in the fridge and pantry meal and it came together very fast! (if I had an apple, would have added that!)
    And last but not least, I have to say I love your blog! I have been reading it for more than several years now. I spend my mornings with coffee (this is after I have fed the horses) beside my computer, catching up on emails and checking my favorite blogs for inspiration and recipes – you never fail to disappoint!
    Sorry I rambled on so much! I never make comments to food blogs, so this is a new one for me!
    Cheers, Tess

    Laura: Thanks so much for this, Tess! Your soup sounds so delicious too. So glad you’re enjoying the blog :)

  • Emily

    I have been pining over this cookbook! Your Moroccan stew is actually one of my favorites too, although lately I’ve been making a very simple and comforting soup from potatoes and kale and whatever else is in my CSA box.

  • clara

    My favorite soup is the typical french onion soup with grilled cheese on top with a nice sourdough bread!

  • Sherri

    Your soup sounds pretty good. My family has several favorites this time of year but white bean chili has been the go to soup this season so far with lots of cilantro on top.

  • Dina

    Love the post and recipe Laura! These days my favorite one pot meal is adapted from a soup recipe I got from Whole Foods called “Better than Chicken Soup”. The basic parts I try to keep are shiitake mushrooms, greens, miso, a squirt of lemon juice and a starchy veggie like butternut squash. From there I improvise :)

    Laura: Dina, I have a similar recipe to yours that I make all the time! Definitely a healing chicken soup-ish quality to it with the texture of the shiitakes and the miso in there :)

  • Julia j

    My favorites for this time of year any anything butternut based, or the same tortilla soup my family has been making since I was about 5 (I know it sounds rather run of the mill). I’ve never tried any soup including chestnut but this looks delicious!

  • Jo

    This book looks amazing! I’ve been reading her blog for years so I know it’s good.

    My favorite soup recipe is one I make on a minimum of a biweekly basis during the colder months – it’s a simple red lentil soup with onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and whatever leafy green I have on hand. Now I think I have to make it tonight.

  • Annie

    At this time of year, I love making homemade ravioli, with kabocha, homemade ricotta, leeks, and toasted walnuts, with a sage brown butter sauce :) There’s not really a recipe, I just make it up as I go along…

  • Kristin

    My favorite fall stew is Sweet Potato Peanut from Joy of Cooking. I have made with all kinds of variations and keep coming back to it every fall.

  • Amy

    Ah, this book looks beautiful! I’m kicking myself for not adding it to my last Amazon order. Last year I made and LOVED your Moroccan-style stew, so it’s definitely getting made again. I also love a soup I got from the PPK blog- a creamy (from cashews) stew with chickpeas, brown rice, and kale. Simple and so comforting. :)

  • Christina

    My go-to fall dinner is 101 Cookbook’s Pumpkin and Rice Soup. This recipe changed the way I looked at soups as a meal- the idea of pouring the soup over brown rice for texture and garnishing with a lemon-rosemary-ginger brown butter…so good!

  • Brianne

    I’ve been overwhelmed with the cookbooks coming out this fall, but this one sounds like a real stunner. I love the nori garnish, and I’ve always wanted to try roasting chestnuts.

  • Karina

    Thanks ! Lentil soup is one of my favorites.

  • Julie

    My favorite winter/fall meal is the Moroccan stew that you mentioned in this post. Before i tried making that I’d tell anyone who asked that i hated stews! Soggy veggies, stringy meat, discolored food. That stew is one of my favorite meals now and has opened me up to trying different variations. Thanks!!!

  • Lauren Bair

    Laura! I love your blog so much. Every image and post is so inspiring ;) You are incredible. Thanks for this giveaway! I’m a huge fan of things you can cook in a pot and kind of forget about (for a little bit), especially in Autumn. I always pretend it’s cooler than it is in Los Angeles, because I grew up with real seasons on the East Coast. Anyway, my favorite one-pot meal is spicy sausage, white beans and a ton of spinach. It’s like a hug for your insides ;)

  • Sarah

    This looks like pure fall comfort :). My fall fav is a creamy pumpkin soup that includes caramelized onions, roasted garlic, a touch of maple syrup, and toasted walnuts.

  • cynthia

    These photos are freaking beautiful. I’m so in love with all of these vibrant dishes from Amy’s book — thanks for sharing it! (And I loved that gorgeous guest post, too!! It was really such a treat to read.)

  • Kerianne

    I adore this book – it is so inspiring! I would love to gift it to a friend as I already have a copy that I will cherish as you do :)

    Our Fall/Winter one pot staples are tortilla soup, chili and i’m recently loving your cauliflower chickpea curry pot!

    Thanks for the inspiration and giveaway.