Wednesday, July 10, 2019

[Food] Korean Pumpkin Soup (호박죽, Hobakjook)


[Food] Korean Pumpkin Soup (호박죽, Hobakjook)

Korean Pumpkin Soup

I remember when I first tasted western-style pumpkin soup. I was in an international school in southern China (when I was a teenager). The school had a really good cafeteria with nice chefs who could cook both western and eastern gourmet for school employees and teachers.

One day, I saw 'Pumpkin Soup' on the cafeteria lunch menu and thought:

'Wow, the cooks can even cook pumpkin soup? I can't wait for lunch!'

Because the only pumpkin soup I knew of was 'Korean Pumpkin Soup', which is mild, chewy when with rice cake balls, and sweet. However, the pumpkin soup of the cafeteria turned out to be savory, creamy and mild.

I didn't know there was also pumpkin soup in the western culture, which is very different from the Korean one because they use different pumpkin and different recipe. Western pumpkin soup uses chicken or vegetable stock, western pumpkin and cream. To me, it tasted more like soft pumpkin cream than soup.

Western pumpkin
Then, what's Korean pumpkin soup? What's so different from the western one?

Sweet pumpkin

Korean pumpkin soup uses sweet pumpkin, rice cake balls, sticky rice powder and some sugar. Most Koreans love it because it is sweet, soft and chewy.

The recipe is easy but it isn't easy to peel the tough and hard skin of a sweet pumpkin. Sweet pumpkin has to be peeled and chopped into small cubes to be boiled in a pot until it becomes pulpy and mushy. Then you have to mix sticky rice powder and sugar into the soup to give it additional sweetness. Moreover, you can add rice cake balls to make a more delightful pumpkin soup.

Korean pumpkin soup with red beans

Korean pumpkin soup with rice cake balls
Nevertheless, there is always an exception :) Korean pumpkin soup can also be savory and mild in some regions in Korea. In this case, they put sticky rice (not powder) and lots of kidneys or red beans without sugar.

If you are looking for a sweet and healthy organic snack or light meal, how about a bowl of sweet pumpkin soup? :) It will surely satisfy you with its sweet and mild pumpkin flavor.

Bon Appétit!