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These are some of our best winter squash recipes — whether it’s butternut, acorn, delicata or pumpkin, these dishes offer fresh ideas for seasoning, cooking and serving your favorite winter squash. There are so many options! Sweet, tender winter squashes can be roasted, mashed, or made into soups or quick breads.
Winter squash varieties come in a mind-boggling array of shapes, sizes and colors. Native to North America and Mesoamerica, the botanical family Cucurbitaceae encompasses two distinct types of squash. Summer squash, which have a thin skin (making them more perishable), and sturdier, long-keeping winter squash with thick, hard skins.
These incredible veggies have amazing natural sweetness (right up there with luscious sweet potato) and we love them all!
Winter squash shopping tips
- Look for winter squash that are rock-hard, without bruises or soft spots.
- Choose squash that still have their stems attached — they will keep longer.
- Pick them up and weigh them in your hands. You want to be sure they feel heavy for their size, which means they are full of moisture.
Flavor pairings for winter squash
Here’s a list to help you track delicious ingredient companions for winter squash:
- Fresh herbs: Sage, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, Italian parsley, mint, marjoram.
- Fat: Butter, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, cream.
- Condiments: Soy sauce, miso, gochujang, harissa paste, pesto sauce, green herb sauce.
- Cheese: Feta, goat cheese, Parmesan, fontina, gruyere, cotija.
- Aromatics: Garlic, onion (all kinds), leeks, celery.
- Fruit: Apples, pears, cherries, cranberries, lime
- Spices: Cumin, coriander, chili pepper, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger.
Butternut squash recipes
- Probably the most common type of winter squash, butternut has smooth, beige skin and bright orange flesh that turns soft and creamy when it’s cooked. It has a bulbous shape, with a long neck and rounded bottom where you’ll find the seeds.
- To save time, look for convenient packages of fresh peeled, cubed butternut squash in the produce section.
- Mild, nutty butternut pairs beautifully with dairy products like butter, Parmesan cheese and cream as well as bold, aromatic spices like curry and harissa.
- The word “pumpkin” actually refers to a wide variety of thick-skinned winter squash. In North America, pumpkins are typically the familiar round, orange ones that appear in the fall months, which aren’t necessarily the best for cooking.
- Other types of pumpkin include calabaza and Japanese kabocha, which has a rich, sweet flavor and almost fiberless flesh. To minimize prep time, look for peeled and chopped kabocha in the frozen food section of grocery stores.
Acorn squash recipes
- A small winter squash with dark green skin and mild-tasting orange flesh, acorn squash is best paired with naturally sweet and salty condiments like maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and miso.
Delicata squash recipes
- Delicata squash is a small heirloom variety of summer squash, shaped like an elongated football. It has thin yellow-to-ivory colored skin with green stripes (which doesn’t need to be peeled). Its yellow flesh is sweet, fine-textured and creamy.
Honeynut squash recipes
- Honeynut is a type of relatively new type of winter squash, a cross between buttercup and butternut varieties. They look like mini butternut squashes.
- The skin is more delicate than other hard squash, and is totally edible.
- Honeynuts are super sweet and nutty-tasting!
10+ Winter Squash Recipes: Italian-Style Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 3-pound (6 kg) butternut squash
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons (15 ml) butter or olive oil
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts sliced in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
- ½ cup (80 g) chopped onion
- 1 small (100 g) apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 3 ½ cups (830 ml) vegetable broth
- ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
- Crushed red chili flakes, optional
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- To roast the butternut squash:
- Preheat oven to 400 (200C) degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. Drizzle the inside of the squash with olive oil and season with salt to taste. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet and put in the oven. Bake until the squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 30-35 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Make the soup
- Put the cream, garlic and cinnamon stick in a small sauce pan and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow the flavors to steep 15 minutes. Pour the cream through a small mesh strainer into the soup pot (or just fish out the garlic cloves and cinnamon stick with a spoon). Set aside.
- Heat the butter or olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, onion and apple to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the they're softened, 5-7 minutes.
- Scrape the flesh from the butternut squash halves and add to the pot. Stir in the stock or water and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer 15 minutes. Puree the soup directly in the pot using an immersion blender until very smooth (or blend in batches in a blender). Stir the infused cream into the soup and heat gently until warmed through.
- Serve the soup in bowls, sprinkled with some parsley, chili and Parmesan cheese.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- The soup can be refrigerated up to 5 days and frozen up to 1 month.
- If you use a blender to puree the soup, be careful to only fill the blender jar about halfway. Hot soup expands quickly under pressure, making a mess if it explodes out of the lid.
- I always recommend that every kitchen have at least two heavy-duty rimmed sheet pans.Good quality pans won’t warp in the oven, and you will use them constantly.
- If you happen to have a high-speed blender, you’ll love how super-smooth and creamy this soup will turn out. But next to that, an immersion stick blender like this one does the trick almost as well and it’s what I use most of the time.
- If you’d rather skip the cream this soup will still be fantastic. Instead, leave it out and add 1 chopped garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the onion-leek mixture in step 3.
- To use cubed squash instead of roasting a whole one, start with 4 cups peeled and cut squash. Use 4 cups of stock in step 5 and simmer 30 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Proceed with the blending to puree.