Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa


Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa is packed with vegetables and enlightening flavors. Gluten-free, too!


Sometimes in life I find myself going through these crazy phases where I simply can’t get enough of a certain type of food.

When I was 6 it was cheese-filled hot dogs. (Umm, remember those?!)

12 year old me couldn’t get enough Nature Valley Granola Bars. (Please tell me you’ve seen the HIGHlarious fake Nature Valley wrapper floating around Pinterest?)

My sophomore year of high school? All Banana cream pie, all the time. (Don’t even get me started on the BCP club my friends and I had.)

Junior year of college was riddled with bags of salt & vinegar chips (I can still feel the tongue burns…)

And I can remember the first winter after college when I made a batch of sweet & spicy chili every Sunday, then ate the leftovers for lunch all week afterwards. This went on for MONTHS. (I couldn’t make that recipe again for years after I came to my senses!)

These days? Well, I’m simply stuck on quinoa. Simply struck, is more like it!

Quinoa is as filling as it is versatile, and lately I’ve been having fun putting it in everything from salads, to mini breakfast bites, to mac & cheese – and now soup. Er, rather – stew. Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa, to be exact!


Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa is one of the most unique dishes to ever come out of my kitchen. Sweet butternut squash is paired with salty kalamata olives, shredded chicken, and fluffy quinoa, all swirled in a savory chicken broth. It is hearty, full-flavored and so satisfying.


It is a perfect cold-weather dish too, and makes plenty for leftovers. Start the stew by peeling, seeding and chopping a butternut squash.


I used a vegetable peeler to get the outer peel off, then a big, sharp knife to cut the top, straight half off the bottom bulbous (bulbous?) half.


Chop the squash into 1/2″ pieces then place it in a microwave safe bowl with a splash of water. Put a lid on top then microwave for 5-6 minutes or until the squash is just barely tender. Remove half, set it aside, and continue microwaving the other half until it’s very soft, about 3-4 additional minutes.


Drain, then mash the squash that was microwaved the longest with a fork or potato masher.


Squash = done! Set these puppies aside for the moment.


Next, place two frozen or thawed chicken breasts in a large soup pot or Dutch oven on the stove over high heat.


Add in rich chicken broth to cover, then bring it to a boil and place a lid on top.


Let the chicken breasts poach in the broth for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken to a plate and shred when it’s cool. Pour the broth into a separate bowl and set aside.

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Return the pot to the stove and add in olive oil and minced onion. Saute the onion until it’s soft, then add in fragrant garlic and earthy dried oregano, and cook for another minute.

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Next add in a can of petite diced tomatoes (I’m a freak about chunks, so I zipped mine through my mini food processor first) as well as the cubed and mashed butternut squash.

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Pour the reserved chicken broth back in, plus rinsed uncooked quinoa, and let the whole thing simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked and puffed.

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Finally, add the shredded chicken, pitted & quartered kalamata olives,

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and fresh parsley into the mix, then stir to combine.


Season with additional salt & pepper, if necessary, and off you go!


Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa

Serves 6


Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa is packed with vegetables and enlightening flavors. Gluten-free, too!


  • 1-1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 14oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup pitted & quartered kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Place the butternut squash and a splash of water in a large bowl with a lid in the microwave, and cook until barely tender, about 6-7 minutes. Remove half of the squash and set it aside. Cook the remaining squash an additional 3-4 minutes or until it is very tender. Drain, then mash this squash with the back of a fork and also set aside.
  2. Add the chicken broth and chicken breasts to a large soup pot on the stove, and bring to a boil. Place a lid on top, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove chicken to a plate to cool, and pour chicken broth into a separate bowl.
  3. Return the pot to the stove over medium-low heat, and add in the olive oil. Add onion, salt, and pepper and saute until the onion is soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring constantly, for another minute.
  4. Add tomatoes and all the butternut squash to the pot. Stir to combine. Pour in reserved chicken broth and quinoa, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then place a lid on top, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and cooked.
  5. Meanwhile, shred the chicken. When quinoa is cooked, stir in chicken, olives and parsley. Cook until chicken is hot, season with additional salt & pepper if necessary, then ladle into bowls.


  • If making ahead of time, you'll need extra chicken broth when re-heating as the quinoa soaks up some of the broth as it cools.
Slightly adapted from Cookin' Canuck

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


Like I said – this stew is so incredibly unique. I love how the cubed butternut squash is creamy, the mashed squash is silky, and that the quinoa lends a little poppy bite to each spoonful.


Don’t even get me started on the flavor contrast between the salty olives and sweet squash. It is sooo good!


What are some of your favorite ways to use quinoa? I just bought an entire 78lb (not really, but close) bag at Costco and am looking for some new ideas. :)




What food are you stuck on right now?

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  1. I’m on a quinoa kick lately, too!!

  2. Francesca 02.20.2012

    Nebraska girl here .. this looks WONDERFUL! I’m going to make it sometime this week. Love Quinoa! I “pop” it and add it to the top of my homemade dark chocolate cranberry bark. How good is THAT for you :-)

  3. Lissa 02.20.2012

    From a Wisconsin girl who also loves quinoa — you must check out this one-pot kale and quinoa pilaf. Really satisfying and easy! (I’ve made it with olive oil and regular lemons, too, and it turns out well.)

    • Karen 02.21.2012

      The One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf that Lissa posted is one of our family’s favorites. Lots of bright flavor. I too am looking for more Quinoa recipes and can’t wait to try this one (I’ll try your suggestion of ham instead of olives).

  4. Lindsey 02.20.2012

    I love quinoa too! I think I made this same dish a couple weeks ago minus the olives since I am not a fan of them. I usually cook a batch of quinoa on the weekend to use as a side or in soups/salads, o for breakfast with Greek yogurt during the week.

  5. nomadreader 02.20.2012

    I’m obsessed with quinoa too and use it in everything! What kind of vegetable peeler is that? I definitely need a sturdier one to tackle things like butternut squash skin!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.21.2012

      I actually got it from Wishbone in a salad pack giveaway. They have some pretty great ones at Williams & Sonoma though!

  6. Kate Cremisino 02.20.2012

    i just love that you said, “goll”. i was born in iowa and have family there still. such an iowan statement! haha

  7. Cookin' Canuck 02.20.2012

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Since developing this recipe, I’ve made it at least once every 2 weeks. My husband adores it and would eat it every day for lunch if he could. We are smitten by quinoa too!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.20.2012

      It is seriously so genius – I would have never in a million years thought to put kalamata olives in a stew, but it works so well!

  8. mmmm this looks delicious. i am loving quinoa these days as well, and anything with butternut squash is high on my priority list :)

  9. Cara 02.20.2012

    I’m tellin’ ya, quinoa burgers (with hummus as a binder) are the best!

    • Oh man, that sounds amazing! Especially with some chopped up kalamata olives (Thanks for getting the olive craving going with your original post, Kristen!)

  10. I’m obsessively stuck on eggs, asparagus and tempeh bacon right now. All three in the same dish = heaven…but I’ll take any combination of them. Just can’t get enough!

  11. Tracy B. 02.20.2012

    I am currently in love with a cold quinoa salad with a mix of veggies, chicken, feta and a sesame asian style vinaigrette.

  12. Tiffany 02.20.2012

    Yum that looks delicious! Question though–whenever I make quinoa, no matter how much I rinse/soak it, it doesn’t seem to lose the bitter flavor. Any tips? :)

    • Nicole 02.20.2012

      I always cook quinoa in almond milk or apple sauce to lose the bitter taste (depending on the recipe) :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.20.2012

      Hmm, I’m not sure! Do you remember which brand you used?

      • Tiffany 02.20.2012

        Thanks for the idea! I just use a generic brand that I get in bulk at a health store. I’ll have to try a different brand! Or the almond milk idea! :)

    • Tonya 02.21.2012

      I put the quinoa in a colendar, and as I run water over it I rub the quinoa with my fingers until the water runs clear. The quinoa has a bitter coating (a plant has to have something to protect it!) that needs to be removed before eating.

  13. Nicole 02.20.2012

    Thanks for another easily GF recipe! I am just about finished with my 78lb bag of quinoa from costco and am looking for some new ideas :)

  14. this stew looks fantastic! right now i can’t get enough egg salad. avocado egg salad, to be precise. yum!

  15. Adding olives is so unique. I’ve never seen a stew with them. Enjoy your evening!

  16. I have been wanting to try Quinoa for some time now, but I could not for the life of me find it at our grocery store. Also my husband still loves those cheese filled hot dogs! :)

  17. Jennifer 02.20.2012

    HAHA, I have seen that hilarious wrapper on Pinterest. I legit LOL’ed the first time I saw it!
    Recipe looks delicious.

  18. Katie 02.20.2012

    On a less healthy note, have you ever tried the banana cream pie blizzard at DQ? It’s my favorite, it tastes like the real thing!

  19. Kim 02.20.2012

    Do you use photo editing software? I can’t get my pictures side by side like that in my posts. My pictures aren’t as nice as your either. Nicely done! Recipe looks good too!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.21.2012

      I just size each photo to half the width of the post area and place them side by side. :)

  20. Lori Lynn 02.20.2012

    Trader Joe’s has a Quinoa with Veggies that I love mixing with more mixed veggie’s. I’ve been looking for some other combinations for it. Thanks for sharing!!

  21. Allison 02.20.2012

    I’m on a quinoa kick as well! Everything and anything I can cook with quinoa I am ON IT. Made your delicious mini ham & cheese quiona cups last night. The family LOVED them! I’d love to see you post some more quiona recipes. Thank you for sharing! XO

  22. I would have to say Tofu and canned pumpkin, but not together. But I bet that would make a great pie if it was pureed together!

  23. I’ve only tried Quinoa once, but this looks like a great way to make it again!

    I just looked up the Nature Value spoof on pinterest – you are right, it is very funny :-) And kind of true!

  24. Abby Ryan 02.20.2012

    I’m hooked on quinoa, too. My favorite as of late is quinoa for breakfast with some unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze and some toasted unsweetened coconut. THE BOMB!!! So much better than oatmeal…..

  25. Angie 02.20.2012

    I made your mom’s macaroni and cheese tonight and it was a big success at our house. I used the panko & parsley ingredients from another mac & cheese recipe on your blog and put it on top of half of it. This was a compromise for my kids :0) Very yummy!

  26. I have squash and quinoa all packed for lunch tomorrow!
    I used to be very obsessed with quinoa but these days I’m all about barley!

  27. Katie Schmaltz 02.20.2012

    I love the 3rd photo where you can see the camera in the spoon! Great food photography!

  28. April Holton 02.20.2012

    This recipe looks lovely, I really want to try it out. I live in Singapore, and I really struggle to find butternut squash, do you have any suggestions on what I can use instead?

  29. a) that pinterest wrapper is so true!!!!! you try to bite it nicely and end up totally covered in those damn crumbs! b) i cannot get on the quinoa bandwagon! i just don’t like the taste…! i did make a fantastic breakfast quinoa porridge recently (to replicate this awesome one from a diner in philly), and so far so good. here’s the link if you’d like to try it :)

  30. Emily 02.20.2012

    Quinoa is a great food to be stuck on! I am stuck on the Biscoff spread. I just ran out of a jar and it pained me to resist getting a new one last night at the store! Also, I’ve been on a greek yogurt kick for oh…4 years. Don’t think that one is going away!

  31. Laura 02.20.2012

    I never would of thought to put olives in stew! Can’t wait to try this.

  32. Andrea 02.20.2012

    This weekend I had Breakfast Almond and Raspberry Quinoa from AMAZING!

  33. Kristin from MN 02.20.2012

    I’ve been obsessed with cooking with barley recently! First I made your vegetable beef and barley soup last week (awesome btw), and now this week I’m gonna make your Beef and Barley Stew. I’m looking forward to some more barley recipes! :)

  34. I bought that Costco bag too. Never had it before and am having a hard time liking it. I tried your mini bites and those were a miss, I just don’t care for the taste that results from egg and cheese mixing. I tried it in a salad. No go. Maybe a stew would be the ticket. I need to find a way I like it since I bought the big bag.

  35. Emilia 02.21.2012

    Yum! Quinoa is definitely a good food to be “stuck on” This stew looks terrific. My favorite use for quinoa is pretty much just plain, with a little pesto stirred in. Simply divine!

  36. My sister and I LOVED the nature valley granola bars (green wrapper – whatever flavor that is). We begged out mom to put them in our lunch every. single. day.

  37. Melissa 02.21.2012

    Wow–this looks like it’s really something special! I can’t wait to try it!!!

    I am fully addicted to almond butter right now. GAH! So good! I’m out right now, and that’s probably a good thing. ;)

  38. Ris 02.21.2012

    Quinoa is such a great super food! Also, I love the idea of pureeing some of the squash to thicken up the broth. I do that with black bean soup and it makes a huge difference!

  39. This looks awesome! Anything with kalamata olives gets my approval…I’m sure they are great with the butternut squash.

  40. Michelle 02.21.2012

    I’m really hooked on any whole grains lately, but since I too need to get through the ’78lb’ bag of quinoa from Costco, it’s been a lot of that. I’ve been making a great Asian flavored quinoa salad someone brought to the Super bowl party we went to. It’s cooked red quinoa, broccoli, asparagus, green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. YUM!!!

  41. Lynn 02.21.2012

    I love your blog and recipes and know that using fresh ingredients is the way to go, but for us who are single and don’t like to spend time in the kitchen cooking for just one, maybe you could do substitutions (like frozen squash, already cooked chicken, etc.)?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.21.2012

      You can definitely use frozen or pre-cut squash from the grocery store, or rotisserie chicken!

  42. Bethany 02.21.2012

    I can’t get my boyfriend to eat quinoa… it freaks him out. This one might work though! Any suggestions for what I could use instead of olives… they freak ME out ;-)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.21.2012

      Diced ham would work really well instead of the olives – it would give a similar salty flavor.

  43. I just bought that same 78lb bag at costco. I’m currently obsessed with quinoa, roasted veggies and goat cheese all mixed up together. AMAZING.

  44. nat@thesweetslife 02.21.2012

    i absolutely love the sound of this! i used quinoa in chili for the first time recently ( and was a big fan! the butternut squash version sounds even more amazing, esp since I love kalamata olives!

    as for other great uses for quinoa, did you know you can use them in cookies? i highly recommend eating them straight from the freezer!

    and i’m sorry for yet another think (I just get really excited about quinoa!) but you have to try quinoa fried rice! my all time fave way to eat quinoa!

  45. emily 02.21.2012

    Thank you for another delish looking recipe! Any suggestions for non-olive lovers? I just can’t think of something good.
    Thank you!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.21.2012

      I think diced ham would work really well instead of the olives – would give a similar salty flavor.

  46. Lauren 02.21.2012

    This looks amazing! I just saw a soup on a menu recently that had olives in it and thought how creative that sounded.

  47. Lori 02.21.2012

    Thank you for ALL your Quinoa posts…I make every one of them and can’t come up with enough words of gratitude for all these tasty and wonderful recipes! This soup/stew looks to be the BEST yet!

  48. Lisa in Fort Worth 02.21.2012

    Just spotted this recipe on Shelby’s blog you may like it.

  49. I made Heidi’s Baked Quinoa Cakes the other weekend and loved them! Also, great to put in the freezer and cook up later!

  50. krystie 02.21.2012

    for the butternut squash, next time you can just slice it in half, de-seed, and throw in the oven for 30-45 minutes….then scoop out with a spoon. Then you’d get the yummy roasted flavor AND not have to peel the dang thing! The only reason to peel & cube is if you’re leaving the cubes whole.

    Recipe sounds AWESOME! The butternut squash addict in me cannot wait to try it.

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