Fresh Ideas: Butternut Squash and Parsnips

I made this silky Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup with maple syrup as an appetizer for our Thanksgiving dinner. I was able to use homegrown butternut squash (that grew out of my not-active-enough compost pile), and the soup garnered rave reviews from everyone at the table. The accolades that meant the most came from my 9-year-old daughter – she said it was “one of her most favorite soups ever”- so I knew I’d be making it again and again.

This soup is adapted from the Brilliant Butternut Bisque which appears in From the Cooks’s Garden by Ellen Ecker Ogden

. I adore this book – it’s a must for the home gardener who also loves to cook – and it did not disappoint here. I made a couple of changes, like using parsnips in place of carrots. I also lightened it quite a bit by replacing most of the half-and-half with homemade stock, then added back in a smaller amount of cream. I think it’s winter nourishment at it’s best.

Recipe for Maple Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup

Yield: serves 6-8


  • 4 tablespoons butter (or half butter and half olive oil)
  • 2 leeks, bottom parts only, cleaned well and coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 cups peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped (or use carrots)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6-8 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade (or use vegetable stock or water or a combination of stock and water)
  • 1/2 cup organic heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


1. Heat butter (or butter and oil) in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, for a few minutes.

2. Add squash and parsnips and cook for another few minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cook until it has all but evaporated, 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the stock and/or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30- 40 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft. Remove from heat.

4. Purée the soup using an immersion blender or, if you do not have an immersion blender, allow soup to cool a bit before transferring it in batches to process in a blender or food processor.

5. Return puréed soup to the pot and add cream and maple syrup. Heat over low heat until warmed through, adding more cream or stock, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

–Winnie Abramson writes the organic gardening and food blog Healthy Green Kitchen.

Photo credits: Winnie Abramson