Soup, also known as canh, is a staple in Vietnamese home cooking. Rather than being served on its own, soup is treated as a side dish to steamed rice and a protein entrée. It is meant to be light and enjoyed throughout the meal as a palate cleanser between bites.

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A simple winter/fall soup is Vietnamese Kabocha Squash. In this post, I made kabocha squash soup using chicken. For the pork version, click here.

Kabocha squash (Bi Do) is also known as Japanese pumpkin. The addition of Kabocha squash in soups gives it a smooth sweetness. The color of the squash also comes out in the chicken broth, giving it a beautiful orange color.


A complete Vietnamese family meal: Chicken kabocha squash soup, caramelized ginger chicken, cucumbers and steamed rice.

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Squash soups are perfect for the cold season. Vietnamese kabocha squash soup is one of my favorites as it can be eaten without peeling off the skin. Lots of people will say remove the skin but when you realize how difficult it is to remove, it’s best to just leave it. The cooking will soften the skin, adding more color and nutrients to the soup!


A light and delicious kabocha squash and chicken soup. Serve it as a side dish in a traditional Vietnamese family meal.

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2 tablespoons vegetable oil3 clove garlic1 green onion1½ quarts water1 lb chicken thighs1 lb kabocha squash or pumpkin flesh cut into 1-inch cubes1 teaspoon sea salt2 teaspoons granulated sugarSprinkle ground black pepper
Prep the ingredients: Peel and finely chop garlic. Slice green onion thinly and separate whites/greens. Slice chicken into 2-inch chunks. Set aside.Add vegetable oil to the bottom of a heavy-bottom small pot. Heat on medium-low. Add garlic and whites of green onions. Stir until fragrant (about 5 seconds).Add chicken bones and toss in aromatics for 5 seconds. Add water and bring the pot to a low simmer and cook for 10 minutes. If using bone-in chicken, add an additional 5 minutes. Occasionally skim off the foam with a spoon or fine mesh if needed.Add kabocha or pumpkin cubes. Cook for 5 minutes or until they can be pierced with a knife with a bit of resistance. Do not overcook.Season stock to taste with salt, sugar, fish sauce, and chicken bouillon powder.Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining green onions and a sprinkle of ground black pepper.

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