Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Orange and Saffron

Silky smooth and bursting with unexpected flavors, this creamy butternut squash soup is finished with crème fraîche, fresh cilantro and crunchy, maple-roasted pumpkin seeds.

Butternut squash soup recipes are a dime a dozen, but this one stands apart due to its unique flavor additions: a pop of fresh orange zest and a hint of fragrant saffron. It’s an entirely unexpected flavor combination that’s simply delicious.


For Toasted Pumpkin Seeds:

  • 1/2 cup (80g) raw pepitas/shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

For Squash Soup:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, sliced into 1-inch wedges
  • 1 medium (approximately 2 pound) butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, halved and seeds removed; cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons rose harrisa, more or less to taste*
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (about 8 threads)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (from 1 large orange)
  • 3/4 cup (180g) crème fraiche
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, to serve
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss seeds with maple syrup and chili flakes. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes or until some seeds have popped and are starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool, breaking apart any large clumps into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Increase oven temperature 425 degrees F.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over onion and squash pieces in a large bowl. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Toss to coat. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading into a single layer. Roast for about 25 minutes or until vegetables are soft and caramelized. Set aside to cool.
  4. Combine vegetable stock, harissa, saffron and orange zest in a large stock pot or Dutch oven set over medium high heat. Season with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then add the pumpkin and onions, along with any leftover oil on the pan.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the crème fraiche.
  6. Blend until smooth using an immersion blender, or transfer the soup to a free-standing blender (be cautious blending hot liquids, I’d recommend blending in two separate batches for safety).
  7. Transfer to serving bowls. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds and top with fresh coriander.
  8. This soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Store pumpkin seeds at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.

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