Make the most of winter squash season

It’s winter squash season in Germany. Known as Kürbis, the same German word used for pumpkin, you can find several varieties filling the baskets at any local grocery store or commissary and lining the stands at the famers’ markets around town.

Winter squashes are distinguished from summer squashes not because of the time of year they are grown and sold but because of when they are best to eat. Right now they have matured fully and their skins have developed a tough rind. This rind protects them and allows them to be stored throughout the winter, thus “winter squash.”

While there are some winter squashes common in America that can’t be found in Germany, we are particularly lucky because two of the most delicious squashes are the most prevalent over here — hokkaido squash and butternut squash.

Butternut squash is sweet and nutty with a firm texture similar to that of a potato.

Hokkaido squash, also known as Red Kuri, looks like a mini pumpkin and is sweet, moist and dense. The skin is edible and does not need to be peeled.

Both of these squashes are versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes to enjoy all winter long.

Spiced hokkaido squash soup

You can’t spend a holiday season in Germany without having at least one bowl of hokkaido squash soup. This is a bit labor intensive, but every spoonful will be worth it.

Start to finish: 60 minutes

Servings: 6

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 hokkaido squash, de-seeded and cut into pieces
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Over medium heat, gently saute chopped onions with olive oil in a large saucepan until soft.

Add the chopped hokkaido squash, potatoes, garlic and the four spices to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock. Begin by just covering the top of the hokkaido pieces with the stock. If you feel it is too thick, you can add in more later. Cover and simmer until the squash and potatoes are tender and soft. This should take about 10 to 12 minutes.

Using a hand blender in the pan, puree the squash and potatoes until smooth and creamy. Add in more chicken stock to achieve desired soup texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls. You can garnish with creme fraiche and croutons if you so choose.

Recipe from

Southwestern stuffed hokkaido squash

Now you can mix the taste of home with this German specialty squash. This recipe is also easily converted to a vegetarian dish just by taking out the ground turkey.

Start to finish: 90 minutes

Servings: 4

  • 2 hokkaido squashes
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Hot red pepper sauce, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut the hokkaido squashes in half horizontally. Scoop out and discard seeds. Place the squash cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender, between 30 and 45 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium.

Add the ground turkey and cook until lightly browned.

Add onion and bell pepper to the skillet, stirring often, and cooking until softened.

Stir in garlic, chili powder and cumin for about 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes, beans, salt and several dashes of hot sauce.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the tomatoes are broken down. This should take between 10 and 12 minutes.

When the squashes are tender, take them out of the oven.

Fill the squash halves with the turkey mixture and top with cheese.

Place them back in the oven until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Recipe adapted from

Curry beef stuffed hokkaido squash

This incredibly filling squash makes for an excellent weeknight meal. The flavors seem counterintuitive, but they blend together nicely in this dish.

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 2

  • 1 hokkaido squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut the hokkaido squash in half horizontally.

Scoop out and discard seeds. Place the squash cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender, between 30 and 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, beef, curry powder, salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are cooked and beef is browned.

Add the spinach and cook until it’s just wilted.

Once the squash is tender, remove it from the oven.

Scoop the filling into the squash halves and serve.

Recipe adapted from

Twice-baked butternut squash

This creamy delight will make your tastebuds and your stomach incredibly happy. Every bite feels decadent despite the dish’s health factor — the perfect treat.

Start to finish: 80 minutes

Servings: 2

  • 2 butternut squashes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 large sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 220 degrees Celsius. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

Slice the stems off the butternut squashes and cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds.

Place the squash halves cut side down on the lined baking sheet. Roast until the cut side of the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. This should take about 35 to 45 minutes.

While the squashes are roasting, melt the butter in a nonstick pan over low heat. Add the onion and salt and sauté until browned at the edges. Stir in the chopped sage and sauté another 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the squashes are tender, remove them from the oven and turn the cut sides up. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Keep the oven on.

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, the insides need to be scooped into a large bowl. With this recipe, we are only refilling two squash halves.

On these two, leave a 1/2-inch border so they retain their shape. The other two halves can be completely scooped out and their skins discarded.

With a potato masher, mash the roasted squash.

Add in the cooked onions and sage, ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt, parmesan cheese and pepper and thoroughly combine.

Scoop the mixture into the two remaining squash halves and return to the oven until the tops begin to brown. This should take about 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Recipe from