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

  • s.maddie.d

    This book sounds swell! As does your collection of cookbooks! (:
    I’m particularly fond of an Andean potato soup called Locro De Papas for this time of year. Its creamy from the avocado added, warm with achiote seeds and black pepper, and salty from feta or queso fresco. Absolutely sensational on a cold, dark winter night!

  • Monique Sullivan

    My favourite soup to make at this time of year is sweet potato stew with beans and kale. That cookbook looks amazing!

  • Grace

    Love the kale chips on top. The combination of squash and chestnuts intrigues me. I didn’t grow up with squash soups but a good hearty chili or chicken wild rice soup just exudes autumn to me. Everything I’ve seen from the lovely book looks just incredible.

  • Keara McGraw

    Ever since you posted your really good tomato soup recipe, I’ve been obsessed/addicted to making it & exploring small variances in ingredients and flavor. It’s just… *really* good. I love that it allows me to embrace the time taken to prepare a delicious and nourishing meal – no shortcuts, no hacks :) Making that soup has become therapeutic. I use it as a wonderfully creamy tomato base for a variety of soups and stews I’ve made since first discovering it!

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

  • Abby

    My favorite soup this time of year is absolutely anything with pumpkin! Thick, sweet one-pot soups with cream, pumpkin, and spices are just the best. :)
    also… i cannot get over these photos! total perfection.

  • sillygirl

    My fall-back meal lately is sauteed cabbage plus white kidney beans, onions and a bit of vinegar topped with a fried egg.

  • Magdalena Gioffre

    This time of the year I love to eat vegan crepes!
    Nice blog.

  • Jane

    Growing up I would have said beef stew and biscuits as my favorite fall/winter meal. Now that I’m vegan not so much. I’m in a total soup/stew mood at the moment and have so many marked to try. I’m afraid I don’t have a go to at the moment, but Heidi Swanson’s spicy fresh pea soup is one that I’ve made multiple times. This soup looks delicious! Having never cooked with chestnuts before I’m curious to give it a try along with many of your creations and Amy’s. Hope I win!

  • Anna

    For the fall/winter season my favorite is Borsch. It’s a very rich soup, originally from Ukraine. It can be based on meat broth or be vegan using only vegetables. It’s excellent for the cold time of the year. Serve it with a scoop of sour cream and garlic toast. Delicious!

  • Rebecca

    This looks so lovely and Amy’s book sounds truly amazing! For me, the colder months brings on a strong craving for warming, spiced food in bowls, like curry, and dal, and bean-y vegetable-filled soups.

  • Connie lavelle

    My son was diagnosed with celiacs two years ago. With this life style change we have adapted to more of a whole foods diet. This book would be a great help/ addition to our diet. Can’t wait to try this soup this weekend. Our family favorite is my award winning chili. I never follow a recipe and it is a little different each time, but I have fed many soccer teams (high school and college) with this favorite. Love those recipes you make so much you have memorized and played with the recipe. I think this soup maybe one of those.

  • Caroline

    Beautiful! Just clicked over to Amy’s blog. I will be busy this weekend in the kitchen!
    This time of year I crave polenta. Warm, creamy, comforting. Add some roasted veg and I am a happy girl.

  • Marie

    this looks beautiful. I love making soup with pumpkin, sweet potato, red lentils and some coconut milk and spice.

  • Sarah P.

    Your soup looks amazing! I have had Amy’s book on my wish list and would love to win a copy! My favorite soup would have to be roasted red pepper– I love creamy soups.

  • Ashley

    Thank you so much for the chance to win this book! Your photos are beautiful. My favorite one pot soup is a minestrone with veggie sausage. :)

  • Madeline

    I love making coconut curries this time of year, with lots of ginger and lime :)

  • Cara Pardo

    One of my favorite (and easy!) winter recipes is the Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew. Sara B of My New Roots made the recipe for Whole Living’s Detox in 2013. It’s top notch!

  • Jamie Y

    My favorite one pot meal will forever be chicken egg lemon soup! A favorite from childhood.

  • Melanie

    The cookbook sounds wonderful. A favourite soup at the moment is carrot, ginger and coconut milk, so tasty and warming. Thanks!

  • Brooke

    This time of year, I find myself eating Shakshouka for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s just too delicious! I make a large portion of the tomato sauce mixture and just heat it up and add the eggs when I’m ready to eat.

    As a vegetarian, I’ve been eyeing “A Home in the Whole Food Kitchen” for awhile and would love to add it to my collection.

  • Marlee

    My favourite one pot meal has to be veggie pot pie. Mmmm with flakey crust baked right on top. Perfection.

  • Spring

    My favourite type of meal in the fall is soup! I like a tuscan white bean soup with rosemary and kale.

  • Heather

    I am so excited about this book. It is on my xmas wish list!
    My favorite fall recipe is baked risotto with kale and butternut squash. It’s easy and satisfying on chilly autumn nights, and it makes great leftovers the next day.

  • Kimberly

    I love a beef stew. Its simple and comforting this time of year.

  • Liliana

    My favorite soup recipe is roasted garlic soup. I would love thhis book.

  • Kate

    Hey Laura! My favourite fall time food is assuredly warm morning oatmeal, still steamy and soft from the stove top. I add whatever I have on hand – some mornings, frozen raspberries smushed into a gooey jam, sometimes pecan or almond butter. It always starts my day off on the right foot…it’s almost meditative.

  • Krispy

    Fall weather equals lentil soup in my kitchen. Today I made a big batch to share with beluga lentils with loads of onion and garlic. I sat out on the front porch and enjoyed a big bowl.

  • Millie l Add A Little

    This looks delicious – kabocha and chestnut are my favourite foods! gorgeous styling Laura!

  • Meghan

    Both yours and Amy’s photos are absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never seen chestnuts in soup, but now have no doubts that the combination is stellar.

    My favorite things to make this time of year are hearty stews that can barely be classified as proper stew, with loads of spices and verdant veggies. This year, the apples and butternut squash have been good to me, making a frequent (and delicious) appearance in the kitchen.

  • Kaley

    My favorite soup right now is definitely that Bali stew recipe you posted a few months back! I’ve been making it once a week since then!

  • CL

    My favourite one-pot meal is eggplant curry – it can be tomato based or coconut based, and it works thickly as a stew or thinly as something more soupy.

  • cristina

    nothing beats a butternut squash soup thick with mushrooms and nut. yeast for me :)

  • Daisy

    Thanks for the giveaway- I was not much a veggie cook – this book will be a great start and inspiration, fingers crossed. My fav one pot meal is done in a rice cooker – rice with ginger and soy sauce marinated chicken and rehydrated shitaki mushrooms – I am sure it will taste just as delicious with tofu for a vegetative option

  • Anna

    My favorite go-to fall/winter soup is Borsch. It’s a very rich soup, originally from Ukraine. It can be based on meat broth or be vegan using only vegetables. It’s excellent for the winter season. Serve it with a scoop of sour cream and garlic toast. Delicious!

  • Thia

    This soup looks delish, and I see what you mean about the tarts!!

    One of my favorite Autumn dishes is a butternut squash curry, with spinach, chickpeas, and diced tomatoes. I add garlic, coconut milk, fresh cilantro, black pepper, cumin, curry powder, and extra cinnamon for a little more sweetness. Sometimes I switch up collard greens or kale for the spinach. Sometimes I add sriracha, for a little kick. I like to serve it over brown basmati rice. It’s really warming on chilly, gray days.

  • jacquie

    a big pot of lentils w/ carrots, mushrooms and broccoli

  • Hefeden

    Our weekly “go to” meal is burrito stir fry. It’s some kind of grain, beans and lots of whatever veggies we have sautéed together. We top it with avocado, sour cream and hot sauce and eat it out of a bowl. Delicious!

  • Nadine Joy Kurland

    I have been looking each week for this sqash and can’t find one!

  • Celina Lima

    i loveeee african peanut stew or ehussi, a nigerianred pepper stew w egussi,or, melon gourd, from nigeria. i toss in spices and spinach and it’s my comfort food!=)

  • Yoojin Lee

    yummm, chestnuts bring me back so many childhood memories!
    my favorite one pot recipe has to be a big pot of roasted vegetable and tomato stew with chickpeas.. so comforting and filling, and can have tons of variations!

  • Michelle

    My absolute favorite is baked sweet potato wedges. I make it the same way each time – a little coconut oil, a lot of cinnamon. It’s the easiest thing to make especially since I’m a student, but still comforting and healthy.

  • Erin @ MouthfulBlog

    Butternut Squash and Sage Soup! And chili. And my grandma’s chicken noodle soup….I have a problem!

  • kelli

    i am loving a bowl of soup …
    and dinner
    the soup is a bubbling pot of anything that sricks me
    anything that needs using up
    a half an onion, a bit of rice, a chicken wing, a potato, an egg on top
    it goes in the pot and always comes out nourishing and comforting
    and economical too

  • Maia Dickerson

    A curry sop…roasted winter squashed, coconut milk and curry as a base then add ins such as rice, farro, etc, maybe some chickpeas, roasted red pepper, cilantro, whatever I have on hand to throe in.

  • Becca F

    I love making smoked paprkia lentil soup this time of year! It’s so hearty, warming, and filling

  • Jade Sheldon-Burnsed

    I make this stew during the chilly months using chorizo, yellow lentils and onion that is just divine!

  • Jennifer

    I make a red lentil stew with lots of root vegetables and peas, and warming spices like cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and lots of fresh ginger. It’s warming and tasty and also very beautiful with lots of golden colors and a bright green pop of peas floating in it. Yum!

  • Amy

    Those leaves are so pretty! I love me some gypsy soup (from Moosewood).

  • Abby

    Every fall/winter I go on a huge roasted squash binge. My favorites are kobacha, butternut, and delicata. They make their way into monstrous bowl meals with other veggies, grains, and beans. Drizzle with a sauce, dressing, or olive oil and I am one happy couch potato.

  • Charlotte Lanoue

    My favorite soup of this time of the year is a rich and hearty one, like your lentil soup or morrocan-style stew. I love tasty pots during winter, which is why I often do all sorts of spicy stews which have a lot of warming flavours!