I love kabocha squash or what’s known as kalabasa in the Philippines, and buy a lot at the market. So, I made the classic Filipino Arroz Caldo with Kabocha Squash. It was the perfect soup to warm us up when the weather turned chilly this week. Most Filipinos consider Arroz Caldo the best rice porridge to soothe your aches when you’re sick.
Whenever it was monsoon season back in the Philippines, one of the favorite soups my Mom cooked was Arroz Caldo, a Spanish phrase that translates to ‘rice soup’. I am thinking of my Mom today, on her birthday, and the many times she cooked this heartwarming porridge for us. My addition of soft, silky squash cubes, or what we call kulabasa in the Tarlac province where I grew up, added a new dimension to the classic recipe.
Here in America, the colder months of autumn sneaked up on us the last few days. So, I needed to sip some soup to warm up. I can cook Arroz Caldo the old-fashioned way on the stovetop. But I discovered, how fast it cooks in the Instant Pot multicooker.
Today, once I unlocked and opened the Instant Pot lid, I stirred the thick rice porridge, which had the chicken, and the kabocha squash cubes simmering. The garlicky and ginger aromas of the broth brought back instant memories of the Arroz Caldo from my childhood, served as an afternoon merienda, after school, or for dinner.
For this recipe, I used leftovers of a roast chicken, especially because the carcass makes good soup stock. The garlic, onions and ginger sauté in minutes. Add the rice, cooked chicken, squash, and broth, and, a whole meal suddenly comes together in a pot. Serve this hearty soup piping-hot, and it will feel like a warm, loving hug.
Arroz Caldo with Kabocha Squash - Instant Pot + Stovetop
- Instant Pot multicooker - 6 or 8 quarts
- Large stockpot or Dutch oven - if using stovetop
- 2 cups cubed kabocha squash, from about half of a whole squash
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 whole white or yellow onion
- 1 knob; 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced in julienned strips
- 2 stalks scallion whites, sliced (reserve greens for garnish)
- 2 Tablespoons patis (fish sauce)
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 to 2 cups cooked chicken cubes, about 1/4-inch sized
- 8 to 10 cups chicken stock; boiled from leftover roast chicken carcass;
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 stalks scallion greens, sliced
- 2 whole hard-boiled eggs, sliced
- 4 pieces fresh calamansi, sliced; or serve the frozen concentrate, around 2 Tablespoons, for dipping; or substitute with 1 to 2 lemons, for garnish
To prepare the kabocha squash:
- Blanch half (or a whole) of a squash in boiling water over high heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from water. Let cool and slice the squash with a large knife.The outer and inside skin should be slightly soft enough to manage after you blanch it. Scrape off the seeds. Cut the inside orange flesh into 1/2-inch-sized cubes, Set aside.
To cook the Arroz Caldo with Kabocha Squash in the Instant Pot (option 1)
- Click on the Saute function. Pour the oil into the inside pot. When oil is hot enough in about 2 minutes, fry the garlic cloves till they turn brown and fragrant. Remove the garlic and set aside for garnish.Saute the onions, ginger and scallions. Pour the patis. Add the uncooked rice and stir around for a minute to flavor and puff up the grains a little.Add the chicken and kabocha cubes. Pour the soup stock. Season with salt and pepper.Turn off the Saute function by clicking Cancel.Close and lock the lid. Check that the release valve is set to Sealing.Select on the keypad: Rice Porridge or else select Rice (if that's what's on the keypad). This cooks for about 14 minutes in the Instant Pot.When the timer buzzes to signal cooking is complete, do a quick release (let the steam come down on its own by turning valve towards you).Open and unlock the lid carefully, set lid on a dry place on counter.Stir the Arroz Caldo. Ladle into individual soup bowls. Garnish with the fried garlic, scallion greens, calamansi and hard-boiled egg slices. Serve piping-hot.
To cook on the stovetop (option 2)
- Prepare the kabocha squash as directed above. Set cubes aside.In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add the oil. When oil is hot enough, fry the garlic cloves till brown, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove garlic and set aside.In the same stockpot and oil, saute the onions, ginger and scallion whites. Pour the patis.Add the uncooked rice and stir around. Add the cooked chicken and kabocha squash cubes. Pour the stock and season with salt and pepper.Cover and cook on medium heat for about 40 minutes, or till rice is cooked completely. Stir the porridge every so often to avoid sticking to the bottom.When done, ladle in bowls. Garnish with garlic, scallion greens, calamansi, and eggs. Serve piping hot.
- I shared how to cook soup stock for different soup recipes in a previous blog post. Click here. Or use store-bought broth or soup stock if more convenient.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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