Couldn’t-be-easier butternut squash bake


20070901_butternutsquashbaketitlee One of the many things that sets the South Africans apart from the British is our deep affection for pumpkins and other squashes.  I do wonder whether it’s a climate-related issue, as gourds generally like a dry climate. Maybe this is why we share our love of gourds with our American cousins. Either way, butternut squashes and their ilk are still approached with some trepidation in the kitchen by many of my English friends, whereas in my kitchen they are old friends and trusty standbys. 

And in South Africa I defy you to find a restaurant that does not regularly have as its vegetable choices mashed butternut and creamed spinach ūüėČ

But I digress.  Another culinary quirk that sets us apart from the Brits (and this one is shared by nobody, as far as I can tell housewives of the American midwest, apparently… see the comments!) is our reliance on packets of brown onion soup powder.  I don’t think there was ever a time that my mother’s kitchen ran out of this multi-purpose wonder ingredient, and I know for a fact that she was not alone.  If you asked a friend’s mother for her recipe for a particularly delicious savoury dish, 7 times out of 10 the recipe would start with "well, you take a packet of brown onion soup…".  It is the secret ingredient in stews, potato bakes and various vegetable dishes – like the one I will share with you below.

This recipe is one of my most tried and tested ones and even if your guests profess not to like butternut squash, this is the recipe most likely to convert them. 

Try it and see!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BAKE (serves 6 as a side dish)


1 medium-large butternut squash
250ml cream (single or double)
1 packet dried brown onion soup
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (optional)


Lightly grease a large, shallow ovenproof dish and pre-heat the oven to 190C.

It’s up to you whether or not to peel the squash.  The cooking is so long and slow that even if you leave it unpeeled, the skin gets to be soft enough to eat.  If you plan to leave it unpeeled, though, do give it a thorough scrub.  Slice the squash into 1cm thick rounds, scooping out the seeds.  Slice each round in half.

Start by placing a layer of squash slices on the bottom of the greased dish.  Pour over some of the cream and then sprinkle liberally with the brown onion soup.  Repeat, making layers of squash, cream and soup until all ingredients are used up.   

If you want a crispy crust, cover the top with the breadcrumbs.  Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake in the pre-heated oven for 60-90 minutes or until the squash is meltingly soft.  Remove the foil about halfway through and turn on the grill for the final few minutes if you want a browned and crispy top.


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  1. says

    Oh Jeanne, this looks wonderful! I really just discovered butternut squash this year and I LOVE it!! Where has it been all my life, lol!
    I like the idea of the crispy topping, this one’s a keeper, thanks.

  2. says

    Oh I am laughing my head off here, because in Utah all the local people use that onion soup mix in most every dish. In the U.S. the brand most seen is Lipton’s Onion Soup mix, and I have a number of good recipes that use it, especially one for meat loaf. If you buy a local church cookbook you’ll find recipes galore with that ingredient. This sounds just wonderful to me! And although I don’t cook with Lipton onion soup mix as much as I once did, it’s something I always have in my cupboard too!

  3. says

    I’ve adopted the butternut in a big way – but I’ve obviously not quite reached the inner sanctum of South African cuisine as I didn’t know about the soup mix! I’ll have to try this one too – I usually bake mine with liberal amounts of butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

  4. says

    My mother uses Onion soup mix in everything – it is an absolute stapple of American kitchens… No Midwestern cook would be without it!
    I can’t get it here.
    But I do have lots of squash and we love it roasted…without the soup mix ūüėČ

  5. says

    That looks delicious! The markets here are full of squash and pumpkin at the moment and here I sit without a kitchen to cook in! Not fair.
    Will definitely give this a go once my domestic situation has returned to normal.

  6. moonablaze says

    if you want to, you can even make your OWN onion soup mix!
    Onion Soup Mix
    3/4 cup instant minced onions
    1/3 cup instant bouillon
    4 teaspoons onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon celery seed, crushed
    1/4 teaspoon sugar
    Mix all the ingredients together with a whisk. Store in a cover container for up to 6 months. Stir before each use. 5 tablespoons of the mix equals 1.25 ounce package of store bought mix.
    – moonablaze, who’s mother’s brisket recipe calls for a can of whole-berry cranberry sauce and a packet of onion soup.

  7. says

    I can just say….give me a butternut and I can give you a meal! But you know what I miss here in France is the real white flat pumpkin, the “boerepampoen”, the one we used to make “pampoenkoekies” with..this bake looks so interesting, I haven’t done the cream before.

  8. says

    We’ve just discovered the wonders of butternut squash (have always loved acorn squash but hadn’t realized how great butternut squashes were). My husband recently made a mashed version of butternut squash using virtually the same ingredients you’ve used in your casserole. The only difference aside from the mashing? He left out the bread crumbs and used chicken stock powder instead of brown onion soup powder.
    I LOVE butternut squash and am constantly amazed at how much I loathed squash as a child! It wasn’t because Mom prepared it incorrectly either. She always halved it and baked it shell side down with butter and a bit of nutmeg in the cavity where the seed were. I ask you, what could be more wonderful? (Oh wait, I know: sliced and baked with cream, garlic and bread crumbs!)

  9. Michele says

    I live in New Zealand now and everyone that comes over must bring me onion soup powder or else!
    My other favourite is the oxtail soup powder.