red lentil kabocha soup in a bowl topped with parsley

Red Lentil Kabocha Soup

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Red lentils and kabocha blend together to make a creamy, satisfying, and high protein soup. Plant-based, gluten-free, and nut-free!

two bowls of vegan kabocha soup

This creamy, dreamy red lentil kabocha soup is the perfect dish to satisfy your cozy soup cravings. Top with crunchy nuts or seeds and serve with crusty bread for a well balanced, satiating meal.

Why You Should Make This Kabocha Soup

  • High protein ⟶ Thanks to the sneaky addition of red lentils, this soup is high in plant protein, making it extra satiating.
  • Dairy-free ⟶ Smooth and creamy without the dairy! You don’t even need non-dairy milk 🙂
  • No nuts or coconut ⟶ Cashews and coconut milk are common plant-based alternatives to heavy cream, replicating that rich, creamy taste and mouthfeel. But cashews can be expensive and won’t work for those with nut allergies. Coconut milk is affordable and not a common allergen, however it does have a strong flavor. So for this soup we aren’t using either! (Although you can use cashews if you’d like.)
red lentil kabocha soup ingredients

Key Ingredients

  • Kabocha Squash ⟶ This is the bulk of the soup so try to pick a good one (tips below!). I buy mine from Japanese or Korean markets if possible.
  • Red Lentils ⟶ This is the protein source and what makes the soup extra filling and satisfying. It also contributes to the smooth, creamy texture.
  • Sunflower Seeds ⟶ Our nut and coconut alternative to make the soup rich and creamy! Much more affordable than cashews and doesn’t leave an aftertaste like coconut milk.
    • That being said, you can swap the sunflower seeds for cashews or 3/4 cup coconut milk (reduce vegetable broth by 3/4 cup).
bowl of vegan kabocha soup, spoon in bowl, topped with parsley and swirls of cashew cream

How to Choose a Ripe Kabocha

Dark green skin ⟶ The kabocha skin should be dark green and glossy. It should also be hard so that when you press on it it doesn’t sink in.

Thick, dry stem ⟶ The stem should be thick and dried out, almost like a cork. The area around the stem should also be sunken in a little. This means it’s been a while since the kabocha was harvested, so it’s had ample time to ripen.

Dark orange flesh ⟶ For precut kabocha, look for ones with dark orange flesh and tighly packed, plump seeds.

two bowls of red lentil kabocha soup

Red Lentil Kabocha Soup FAQ

Should I peel the kabocha?
I peel some of the skin off the kabocha, but not all since the skin does contain nutrients. Be sure to thoroughly clean the kabocha skin if you are leaving some of it on. Keep in mind that leaving some of the skin on will make the soup a darker color.

Can I use other beans/lentils?
Technically yes, but keep in mind that the color of the soup will change depending on the color of the bean used. Red lentils are great since they are the color of kabocha, but white beans or chickpeas would probably work well. I wouldn’t use green lentils since the color will probably turn out more brown, not very appetizing. If you want to use white beans, be sure to use cooked white beans, not dry.

red lentil kabocha soup close up

More Satisfying Soups!

two bowls of vegan kabocha soup

If you try out this red lentil kabocha soup, don’t forget to leave a comment/rating down below and tag me in your photos on instagram I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!

bowl of red lentil kabocha soup, cashew cream in small bowl below

Red Lentil Kabocha Soup

Red lentils and kabocha blend together to make a creamy, satisfying, and high protein soup. Plant-based, gluten-free, and nut-free!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 4


  • 1½-2 lb kabocha squash, about ½ a medium kabocha
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter or olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped, optional
  • handful of celery leaves, chopped, optional
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped, optional for a sweeter soup
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cup dry red lentils, rinsed
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds, or cashews
  • 4-5 cups vegetable broth**
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp salt and pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp white miso, optional


  • Prep kabocha: Use a peeler to peel some of the green skin off the kabocha. I like to leave some of the skin on for nutrients, but this will make the soup a darker color. Cut kabocha in half and scoop out the seeds, then chop into chunks.
  • Heat butter or oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once butter melts (or oil is hot), add garlic and ginger and stir for 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until softened.
  • Add kabocha, carrots, celery leaves, apple (if using), and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
  • Add bay leaf and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add rinsed lentils, sunflower seeds, and 4 cups of broth. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil.
  • Skim off the white foam that appears on top, ideally using a mesh sieve but a spoon will work too. Reduce heat if the soup is boiling too aggressively – you want to maintain a simmer. Add more vegetable broth if the veggies aren't submerged in liquid.
  • Once you've removed the foam, add thyme, cover the pot, and simmer until kabocha is soft, about 15 minutes. A fork should easily pierce through the kabocha. Turn off heat and remove bay leaf. Add miso if using.
  • Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. OR cool for a bit then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth (you may need to do this in batches – don't overfill your blender). Taste soup and add salt/pepper as desired.


Vegetable Broth: You can also use water + vegetable bouillon (I use 1/2 tsp better than bouillon*).

Nutrition per serving: 300 kcal | 12g fat | 1.5g sat fat | 40g carbs | 8g fiber | 12g protein | 433mg sodium

*Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, but the price remains the same to you. Thank you for supporting Ellie Likes Cooking!

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