Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew

I know I said this soup was already my favorite of the season, but at the risk of sounding completely faithless, I have to argue that this quinoa stew is the new winner. It.Is.So.Good. (How’s that for profound? Man, I’m a regular philosopher today.) But really, being So.Good. is a pretty fabulous review for a stew that is so stinking healthy.

I was skeptical my husband and kids would go for this one but just like these little quinoa patties, my family surprised me by their exuberance over this meal. Not only did it fill the ten hollow legs I get to feed every night, but I didn’t even have to bribe them to try it. I think we are officially becoming one with quinoa, meaning my kids don’t glare at the little kernels convinced I’m feeding them hatched frog eggs. And they are already used to me slyly sneaking butternut squash into soup thanks to this recipe and this one, so overall, this meal went over quite well. Phew.

Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew

I tweaked the original recipe (that has lots of stellar reviews) to work with one pot instead of dirtying up other dishes, and the finished stew is absolutely lovely, both in taste and looks. Since I just moved to a climate that reportedly gets colder than 30 below in the winter (uh, is that healthy, by the way?), we are going to need some stick-to-your-bones meals and this will definitely be at the top of the list.

A Quick Personal Update: By the way, so many of you have asked about our move and housing situation so for those that care (and I don’t blame you if you don’t!) we are finally moving into a house TODAY! After being “homeless” for six weeks and after two houses have fallen through (spawning enough drama to fuel a reality TV show while at it), we are relieved to finally have a place to call home. The upside? It’s a house! It has a roof! And a front door! And we get to make our own beds! And I’ll have a full-size refrigerator once again (oh, hotel, we’ve appreciated you but I hope to be unacquainted with you for a long, long time). The downside? It’s small. Really small (think 1,200 square feet, give or take) and I have five children (four of which happen to be lively, vigorous young boys). But we will manage through the winter and come spring or summer, hopefully something with a bit more space will be available. Until then, here’s to family bonding all winter long (can we say 1,283 games of Uno or bust?)! As a sidenote, we will be sorting through all our junk after the mover’s deliver it this week and combined with the fact that we don’t have internet set up at the house, my response to comments and emails may be a bit spotty. Just know I love your guts and we’ll be settled in soon. Thanks for all of your support and patience!

What To ServeA really, great dinner roll (for homemade, I’d suggest French Bread Rolls or Buttery Cornmeal Crescents)
Fresh fruit or a light fruit salad like this Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Sliced cheddar cheese

One Year Ago: Spooky Eats: Jello Worms {Seriously Gross}
Two Years Ago: Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake
Three Years Ago: Cheesecake Bars

Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew

Yield: Serves 6

Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts
  • 1 can (14-oz) petite or regular diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups chopped butternut squash (about 1 medium squash, peeled and seeded)
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 cups chopped fresh spinach


  1. In a large 4 quart pot heat the olive oil until hot. Add the chopped onions, oregano, and garlic. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is softened. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and boil until the chicken is cooked, 7-9 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  2. Add the tomatoes, butternut squash, and quinoa. Simmer for 15 minutes until the squash is tender and quinoa is cooked. If desired, scoop out some of the squash, mash it and return it to the pot. Shred the cooked chicken and return to the pot. Add the salt and pepper, adding more salt to taste, if needed. Stir in the spinach. Cook 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Serve warm.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

69 Responses to Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew

  1. Kerry says:

    Do you think this could be adapted to a pressure cooker? I got one for Christmas and just love it!

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried it, but if it were me, I’d put it all in the Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) and cook on high pressure for 8-10 minutes (make sure the butternut squash is in really small pieces).

  2. Mary says:

    Really liked the look of the recipe and cooked it as shown. It took a lot longer but didnt mind the wait. Unfortunately mine tasted really bitter. First time cooking quinoa, what did I do wrong?

  3. jen says:

    Just made this for lunch with relatives. We were all amazed by how flavorful it was and they were delighted to take home some leftovers. I didn’t have spinach and only had 1lb boneless chicken thighs. Also used fire roasted tomatoes and a bay leaf. Just delicious! And easy to boot. Thanks for another winner!

  4. Rayna V says:

    Over the years, I have tried dozens (I’d say close to 100) of recipes from your blog and you’re still my go-to for dinners. Looking for more uses of quinoa, I found this. Initially I was concerned about putting it in a stew (I’ve never tried it that way before), but I’ve learned that I can trust you. This is not only absolutely delicious (possibly my favorite stew), but it is super healthy AND easy to make. Thanks again.

  5. Joyce says:

    I made this on New Year’s Day. A perfect meal after an afternoon of sledding. I made a few changes, due to not wanting to go to the store. I lazily used canned chicken, left out the spinach, and substituted poultry seasoning for the oregano. It was splendid and I’ll make this again! Thank you for a wonderful website full of family tested, delicious recipes.

  6. Julie says:

    Made this today in the crockpot. Thank you to Ashely and her Jan 28, 2013 comment above for the instructions. :). I added salt, pepper, and a hefty sprinkle of garlic powder after adding the spinach. It was delicious! I am freezing the leftovers. Yum!!

  7. Jess says:

    Started the onions, garlic, oregano and broth (used veggie) part on the stove and then transferred it to a crockpot that had the squash, tomatoes, spinach and quinoa. I knew that the quinoa would soak up a good part of the liquid so I added a water to the empty can of tomatoes, sloshed it around in the pot that I cooked the onions in and then added it to the crockpot. I also added some crushed red pepper for spice. The best thing about making soups from scratch is the level of salt is totally up to the cook. Great for heart-conscious people. It smells and tastes so good!

  8. Jacke says:

    I am eating this now as I type. It is a fabulous, healthy dish! So glad I had everything that I needed on hand to make and that I stumbled upon this recipe!

    Thank you for sharing it with us! 🙂

  9. […] Made with: quinoa and vegetables with a simple broth base. 11. […]

  10. Karen says:

    Yummy! I accidentally left out the tomatoes and we actually all liked it better before I added the tomatoes for seconds. The tomatoes seemed to overpower all the other flavors. Both ways are delicious though! Just thought I’d add that note in case you feel like going crazy next time you make it. ;). Thanks Mel!

  11. J says:

    Mel, this soup is SO delicious and so incredibly simple to prepare! What a perfect first lunch on a snowy, sunny first day of 2014!

  12. roof company says:

    If you are actually in engineering you may already know that there’s a large amount of recourses which are total nonsense, fortunately your website is not one of those sites, i like your content a lot, keep up the great work

  13. Karen says:

    We LOVE this soup! If you think it’s bland, sweak the salt and pepper just like any recipe it may call for more depending on how you like it! SO yummy and healthy!

  14. Wendy says:

    Just noticed that it’s almost exactly a year since you originally posted this. I have my chicken simmering and the squash happily steaming. I’m going to mess around with the flavor profile and see what I come up with. Curry, anyone?

  15. […] Chicken and Butternut Squash Quinoa Stew at Mel’s Kitchen Café (GF, DF) […]

  16. Multigrain says:

    Mel – thanks so much for this recipe! I’m in my first trimester and love finding new healthy recipes. Hubby loved it too, (especially since it’s one of the first times I’ve really cooked in awhile) haha. Hope you are all settled in your new home.

  17. Kaylene says:

    Do you think I could freeze this? I’m not sure if the spinach would turn black or how the squash would reheat.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kaylene – it’s worth a try to freeze it. I haven’t so I can’t give exact results. Usually the texture of some foods can change when frozen but if you don’t mind that, then it should work ok (I can see the squash getting slightly softer and/or the quinoa losing a bit of texture).

    • Jackie says:

      I have frozen this is individual portion-sized bags. It reheated beautifully and tasted perfect. It’s a great meal to have on hand.

  18. Sue says:

    Chicken quinoa stew

  19. Erin says:

    I just made this for dinner tonight, and it was great. I added rosemary because I love the flavor combination of butternut squash with rosemary. Will definitely make it again. Thanks, Mel, for another tasty recipe that I feel virtuous eating!

  20. Ashley says:

    I actually found that this recipe can be slow-cooked pretty easily. I tossed frozen chicken in with onions, garlic and broth (though I added 2 extra cups of broth) and let that get a head start for a few hours on high then added in the tomatoes, squash, quinoa and oregano for a few more. When it was all cooked, I gently used a potato masher to break up the thigh pieces and mash up the squash a bit and the texture worked really well, I thought.

    Just thought I’d put that out there for anyone intimidated by all the steps!

  21. Mel says:

    Tawny – hmmm, I think most things are worth a try but I think the steak would overpower the other flavors in this dish.

  22. Tawny says:

    I have a “beef top round steak” in the fridge I need to make, would that work ok in place of the chicken, or is that just weird? I have everything else and really want to try the soup but not ruin it!

  23. Tiffiny says:

    Mel, I made this last night and I’m eating it right now as I post this comment. Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard *ahem*… there we go. I’m honestly blown away by how good this is. How can something so healthy be this good?! Is this a trick? Is this real life?
    I actually had to force myself to eat this slowly, because I just wanted to gobble it down! It has this magical balance of tasting so light but being so hearty. You might want to change the name to “magical winter stew”. Thank you again for another great recipe. And thank you for putting in ingredients my husband want touch so now it’s all mine. Mwahahaha!

  24. Judi says:

    I made this tonight and wow! Great flavors. I used chard instead of spinach but am really pleased with the result. This recipe is a keeper!!

  25. Sarah says:

    I will be honest…. This recipe seemed a little bland until I added a can of coconut milk and a little graham marsala. It went from OK to sensational! Top it with some fresh cilantro and even avocado, to make it a super delicious.

  26. Shelley says:

    This was good, even the husband liked it as you said LOL. I enjoyed it even more the next day when i added a can of fire roasted diced green chiles. Thanks!

  27. deb devo says:

    I have to say I was very disappointed in this recipe. I have taken quite a few recipes from your site that have been terrific, but although this one made the house smell absolutely wonderful, it was totally bland. I might try making it again with some Indian seasoning; I’ll have to see.

  28. Jill says:

    Another good one, Mel! I always enjoy your recipes and appreciate the beautiful pics and thoughtful comments. I went to make this one and realized that I could’nt find my quionoa so I subbed instant brown rice. Then I used zucchini squash instead of butternut because zucchini was still lurking in the garden. Ditto chard instead of spinach. The kids said they liked it and asked what it was but I didn’t know what to say.

  29. Nicole H. says:

    Congrats on the house and good luck with the cold! We just moved to a very cold climate as well – Rexburg Idaho. Hurray for stews and soups! We tried this the other night and I’m not sure if I did it right. I may have had a not so flavorful butternut squash or something; maybe we just were expecting something else, I’m not sure. My kids (1 and 3) did eat it though with some coaxing and once they started, they ate much more than I thought they would. We ended up adding a few different things (onion powder, thyme, some nutmeg …?) including coconut oil. I liked the texture of it, and it seems to get better the next day because I really enjoyed it today for leftovers. I will definitely make it again, thanks so much, loving your blog and recipes as always – oh just made your “favorite sugar cookies”. Love love LOVE.

  30. jaesi says:

    Hey friend! I just made this for dinner. LOVED the flavors. I also love the idea of topping it with kalamata olives. Ill do that next time.
    Yay for new small houses!

  31. Jena says:

    I made this the other night and it came out amazing!!
    The hubby LOVED it! Thank you so much for all your tasty recipes!

  32. DEE says:

    This stew was positively yummy…healthy…and soooo easy to make! Highly recommended by someone who is trying really hard to lose some weight!

    Thanks again for a great recipe!

  33. Kim says:

    Made this last night. Worried about family liking it but it was a hit. Definitely a keeper!
    Nice to have something different.

  34. Stephanie says:

    Funny I was looking for a butternut squash soup recipe and your site was the first I visited and low and behold, we must have been on the same wavelength because this was the first on your page! Made this tonight and it was perfection!! Did it in the crockpot…cooked onions, garlic,spices, tomatoes all day, added the squash and roteserri chicken 3 hours before we ate, added quinoa one hour, and spinach about 20 mins before! Totally easy, totally yummy, totally perfect for a rainy day! Thanks Mucho!

  35. DEE says:

    Hurrah!!!! You are in you own place/roof/door/refrigerator! 😉
    You know what the other wonderful upside is?….. Children never remember how small a place they were growing up in was!! It’s the fun times they have that stick. You can have tents for makeshift personal space for the boys….and with all the good food…..mmmmm….may the memories begin!!!!

    (I remember going back to so many childhood homes I grew up in and being shocked at how tiny the places were…and how large in my memory). Good luck this coming week!!!! Making this stew soon!

  36. Beetree says:

    Congratulations on your new place! We have been there, too- 5 kids, two dogs, two fish and a cat, all in a one bedroom, one bathroom place! What we thought would be a two week “vacation” turned into 6 months in a 960 sf space! It’s actually the subject of my first blog post- . I’m sure you guys will have a wonderful adventure there, and lots of special memories. 🙂 And, this stew looks amazing!

  37. Rachel Moody says:

    House buying is always the most drama creating situation! I’m glad you finally have one, and hope that in the spring the family is much closer bonded 🙂 ha!
    On another note…guess who just got a butternut squash from her neighbor and wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it?!? Oh, no question what to do with it now!

  38. Alecia says:

    I once had the pleasure of living for 4 months in a two bedroom apartment while I waited for the construction of our 3200 ft2 home to be finished after selling our 1400 ft2 log cabin. It was the best 4 months! (Of course, it was summer and I had one two-year old daughter at the time.) I remember sitting on the inside stairs crying the first time I had to clean the new house. I had been able to clean the entire apartment from top to bottom in an hour. The new house took forever. We are still in that 3200 ft2 house some 21 years later, but part of me has always longed for a smaller home. Thankfully we have wonderful neighbors who make it worthwhile.

    Just when you think you can’t stand it anymore, try to remember you’re making memories to last a lifetime.

  39. Jessica says:

    This was so great! I always need to have dinner prepped & ready ahead of time because Mondays are later evenings for us. I had everything on hand & it was so good! Even my almost one-year-old was devouring it and kept saying “mmmm”. Thanks for always having the recipes that I need and that everyone always loves! I always consult your site first when looking for meal ideas.

  40. Mel, I made this last night because I just happened to have everything I needed. It always amuses me when I make a recipe the same day I spot it when I have piles and piles of untried recipes going back, dare I say it, years! I had some sweet potatoes I needed to use up, so I subbed them for the butternut squash. My husband and I absolutely loved it. Now I have to get my act together and post it! 🙂 Once again, good luck with your move…

  41. Teresa R. says:

    I’ve already commented once on this post, but last night I made this stew and it was great. The more you eat, the better it gets! My daughters loved it too!

  42. I’m so glad that you enjoyed my stew recipe so much! It is definitely a favorite in our family, and I think it’s time I make another batch.

  43. Your five hollow legs made me laugh! I am impressed that this stew got a great review, it bodes well for a snug winter together! I am trying to start using quinoa more, it´s such a wonderful grain and this is certainly a wonderful recipe. Have a great week Mel!

  44. Lila says:

    Congrats on the house!! So glad to hear that you will have a real roof, real beds, and a full-sized fridge! No quinoa, but thinking of trying this with black lentils tonight (I have everything else – yay CSA box!).

  45. Terry Bridges says:

    I live in a 2600 sf house. Years ago we lived in a 1100 sf house and we talk often (all the time) about how wonderful it was. In fact, if we could move back to the smaller house, we would do it in a heartbeat! Made the quinoa patties a couple of days ago and couldn’t stop eating them. I have to make another batch tomorrow. The stew looks and sounds amazing (sans chicken). Where has quinoa been all my life? It is delicious as a hot breakfast cereal. I love the little pops in your mouth. I lends itself to any(every)thing. You’ll love your house – believe me! Besides, getting rid of stuff is liberating. Really.

  46. Niki says:

    This looks soooo good! but it’s 90 out today lol! Maybe i’ll make it anyway, i have 2 butternut squash in the fridge from our csa. Btw- I have 4 boys and a baby girl and our house is 1000sf, so I completely feel your pain!!!

  47. Brittany C. says:

    Oh Mel, bless your heart! So happy to hear you guys finally have a house, but 1200 sqft with 5 kids? Wow. You are a saint. I’m sure it’s much, much better than a hotel, I could only imagine. Hope you all get settled quickly!

  48. Amanda E says:

    So happy for you to be in a house! It will be a blessing I just know 🙂 Wonderful recipe! One tip… if you want the mix of butternut chunks and butternut mash, use a submersible blender after it’s cooked … My opinion: your version is a heck of a lot easier than the original! Thank you! Love the spinach addition too!

  49. I’m glad you’re moving into your house today – finally! This stew looks delish

  50. Valerie A. H. says:

    Great news that you found a house and will be settled soon! So happy for you!
    Also, so happy for me because you posted another great recipe. Thanks Mel!
    Take care and try to get SOME rest through the move to your new place.

  51. Ruth says:

    Oh Mel, I am so glad to hear the news about the house. I know it is not the square footage that you wanted but maybe something real good will result because of it….like saving money on heat this winter so you get get the house of your dreams come spring/summer. Anyway, you have a place you and yours can truly call home, plus, you will have some really good stories to share with your grandchilren 25 years or so from now.
    Like someone else said, you have an incredible attitude. You inspire me!!—not only with your attitude but with your mothering, your cooking, your baking, your sharing. During the past six weeks you have not missed a beat with your blog. How do you do it?? I have no idea what kind of vitamins you take, but I WANT SOME.
    PS: The stew looks and sounds wonderful. Thanks you for sharing. This will be perfect for supper tonight.

  52. Haha “hatched frog eggs”! That’s hilarious. I can see their point, but I’m glad they’re starting to like quinoa! This stew looks amazing…perfect for a chilly fall day! 🙂

  53. Andrea says:

    This sounds like the perfect fall stew. I’m excited to try it.

    Congrats on finding a house, and good luck with your move!

  54. Jen T says:

    Yeah you got a house! Yes, it is small, but it is still a house! Good luck settling in! Keep warm and this looks amazing! Made your white chicken chili and loved it! Thanks!

  55. Aubrey says:

    How awesome that you posted this today! I just made the original recipe last night! It was a huge hit with my ever-skeptical husband and honestly one of the most filling and healthy soups I have ever had, and it is so packed with flavor! I love your spinach addition and simplified instructions. Can’t wait to try it your way! Best of luck in your housing adventure. Your incredible attitude inspires us all!

  56. sara says:

    This looks delicious. But more importantly, I am SO glad you have found a house, even if it’s just seasonal. Best wishes with all the moving and unpacking – it will be so fun to rediscover your “stuff”! At least that’s what happened to me when I moved to MN last year – had so much fun opening the boxes after being separated from my stuff for 4 months!

  57. Jessica says:

    I just pinned this! From the original link I mean, but was reluctant because of the multiple dishes for a soup. I have some braising greens and a butternut squash that I need to use up so I will definitely give this a shot!

  58. Leigh Anne says:

    Yay for a new house and fun memories! Thanks so much for sharing this yummy, healthy soup recipe. I gotta get a butternut squash and I will be all set! 🙂

  59. Teresa R. says:

    I’m happy you finally get to move into a house. I lived in a really small home when my kids were young and I felt crowded, but my best memories are of times in that house. I would give anything to go back in time and be in that little house with my “babies.” This recipe looks great and I’ll be making it soon. Thanks.

  60. Rebekah says:

    I have been wondering and thinking about you with your housing situation, so glad you have a house to move into for now and will pray for a larger home come spring. By the way the soup looks absolutely wonderful, I’ll have to try it. You amaze me with all the recipes you put out dealing with an infant, 4 boys and no home. God Bless!

  61. StephenC says:

    You are living an adventure and I admire your good humor about the challenges. Good luck with all that. We will be watching for you when you can share more with us. BYW, I have a need to put my car in the Whole Foods lot on Wed morning (while I have cataract surgery). I’m going to go in to the bulk bin and get some quinoa and my parking ticket validated.

  62. Hani says:

    This dish looks delicious. I just picked about 25 butternut squashes and was looking for new way to use some. Love the colors of this too.
    Congratulations on the move. Having a place and to call it your home is the best gift one could get. Wishing you lots of great memories and lots of great meals cooked in your kitchen. Good Luck with everything.

  63. Kim in MD says:

    This stew looks seriously delicious, and this made me laugh (frog eggs?) but more importantly….CONGRATULATIONS on your move today, Mel! I know your new house is small, but at least you will be in a home for the holidays and over the winter months. I hope you find the home you are looking for in the Spring, but in the meantime at least you will have a real kitchen! Unpacking is not fun, but try to enjoy these next first few weeks in your new home.

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