Winter squash soup with citrus-mint pesto

Winter squash soup with citrus-mint pesto

With their brilliant orange-colored flesh, winter squashes are the kings of winter vegetables. Whether roasted, pan-sautéed, cooked in soups or stews, or puréed, they’re delicately flavorful and imbue a lovely sweetness.

This recipe starts with a white wine reduction, which enhances that wonderful natural sweetness but also brings a bit of tang to the soup. Topped with a swirl of the citrus-mint pesto, this soup has bright flavors and a silky-smooth texture, and is also gorgeous to look at – an enticing addition to your holiday table or Thanksgiving feast.

Food & wine pairing: France, Viognier with winter squash soup

White wine iconA full-bodied, aromatic white wine is a must with this soup. Try a Viognier from southern France or from California. Although Viognier is now grown in different parts of the world (Austria, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Australia), these two regions still offer the best expression of the variety.

Sugar pumpkin

Winter squash soup with citrus-mint pesto

serves 6 to 8
active time: 30 min

For the soup

  1. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 medium Vidalia or Spanish onion – peeled, quartered and cut crosswise in 1/8″ slices
  3. 2 garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
  4. 1 cup dry white wine
  5. 3 lbs (1.4 kg) winter squash (1 medium butternut squash, kabocha, sugar pumpkin…) – peeled (use a vegetable hand-peeler), seeded and cut in 1″ chunks
  6. 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  7. 3 to 3 1/2 cups spring water
  8. 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
  9. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  10. 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

For the citrus-mint pesto

  1. 1 small bunch Italian parsley (1 1/2 oz) (45 g) – tough stems removed
  2. 8 sprigs fresh mint – leaves removed from stems
  3. 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds – coarsely ground with mortar and pestle
  4. 1/4 teaspoon orange zest (use a microplane grater)
  5. 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  6. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  7. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  8. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Step 1: Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes until golden, stirring from time to time. Add the garlic and wine. Stir well and continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until the wine has evaporated and glazed the onions. Add the squash chunks, stock, 3 cups of water, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer covered for 30 to 35 minutes, until the squash is very tender.
  2. Step 2: Add the orange juice and purée the soup with a stick blender or food processor, until silky-smooth. Thin the soup with water to the desired consistency. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Step 3: While the soup is simmering, make the pesto. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Place a spoonful of the pesto in the center of each bowl and serve immediately.
  4. Cook’s note: The soup can be made up to 3 days ahead and reheated just before serving. It may need to be thinned with additional spring water, as the squash will absorb the liquids as it stands. Freezes well up to 1 month.

Winter squash soup with citrus-mint pesto

soup, winter squash, butternut squash, mint pesto


  1. This is an awesome soup! Although it took some time to make, it was well worth the effort. At first I didn’t think we added enough parsley to the pesto mixture, but obviously we did because when added, it created the most amazing combination of sweet and tart. We had it as an entrée for two which gave us two meals. My husband added Trader Joe’s oyster crackers but for once, I didn’t think anything else was needed. I don’t know how this recipe could be better so I suggest everyone follow the recipe ~ at least for the first time.

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  4. Oh those colors!
    The pesto sounds fabulous!

  5. This looks amazing! I am going to try this when my family comes in for Christmas.

  6. We served your squash soup with mint/parsley pesto as our first course with a traditional Turkey Thanksgiving dinner . The soup was the hit of the meal ! Eleven of our family wanted to know how to make it. Our Son only had the soup for dinner .

  7. Wow! This is so bright. It’s the perfect wintery soup to eat when you are colllld and in need of a pick me up. The colors and flavors would make anyone happy.

  8. I love the brightness of the green pesto!

  9. Cannot wait to try this! I love squash soup and have been busy making lots of broth-based soups. This sounds terrific!

  10. I adore pesto and I like the idea of yours with the citrus–I will try this!

  11. I love the color on that.

  12. Mmm. We love squash soup and the lattitude for pairings its flavor allows. Sour cream. Wild mushrooms. Balsamic vinegar. Ginger.
    Your wonderful pesto gives it a new dimension… Thanks. And Happy Thanksgiving too!

  13. Wow, I love the twist of the pesto addition! very creative way to spice up the soup and add even more wonderful color to the dish.

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