Classic Butternut Squash Soup (with options)

By Ann Fulton

Smooth and luxuriously creamy (but with no cream in sight), a big pot of this satisfying soup comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus there's a list of recipe adjustments to suit every preference.
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Smooth and luxuriously creamy (but with no cream in sight), a big pot of this satisfying soup comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus there’s a list of recipe adjustments to suit every preference.


Every fall, I look forward to my first bowl of butternut squash soup.

For years I made the soup without the structure of a recipe, mixing up the ingredients every time.

In the early Fountain Avenue Kitchen years, I realized that many people appreciate a very specific recipe. At the same time, options are always appreciated!

In that spirit, I pulled together a list of ways the recipe can be adjusted. Not all of us like a really thick soup. And palates vary with regard to preferred spices, level of heat, sweet versus savory, and so on. 

For its streamlined approach and wide appeal, my favorite combination is the recipe as written. From there, if I’m feeling the need to tweak, I’ll tailor with a touch of cayenne or perhaps a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

Topping with crisp, roasted pumpkin seeds offers contrasting crunch and visual appeal, but the soup will be complete if you skip them. (Do note the speedy shortcut for microwave “toasting” squash seeds, below.) 

A convenient, make-ahead meal, I recently served the soup during a busy photo shoot where five people needed a quick lunch that was ready to go. 

Several mentioned it was their favorite butternut squash soup ever. One person appreciated that the soup wasn’t too sweet, as butternut squash soup can sometimes be. Another relished the velvety texture and nuanced flavor, despite the lack of cream or butter, which are often used copiously in restaurant offerings. Yet another commented that the recipe offers a stellar option when serving vegan and vegetarian diners and can be fancied up with a variety of toppings, if desired.  

The last time I made this flexible and forgiving recipe, I mistakenly used hot curry powder instead of regular and finally tried adding peanut butter, a suggestion made by a friend several years ago, which I always seemed to forget. 

The verdict? The hot curry was lovely–I simply skipped the cayenne that I was planning to add. My husband said this was his favorite bowl of butternut squash soup yet. Jack would tell you that he doesn’t like peanut butter added to things, so I started with one tablespoon–enough to add a hint of nuttiness but not enough, I hoped, to be off-putting to him.

I thought the peanut butter was a fabulous addition, and though I may have stirred in a second tablespoon for myself, the small addition offered a happy medium enjoyed by all. 

Smooth and luxuriously creamy (but with no cream in sight), a big pot of this satisfying soup comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus there's a list of recipe adjustments to suit every preference.

How do I “toast” the seeds in a microwave? 

  1. Remove the seeds from the butternut squash (or other winter squash) and discard most of the stringy goop. I don’t worry if a little clings to the seeds. It will add flavor and dry out as the seeds crisp.
  2. Toss the seeds with just enough olive oil, or another oil of choice, to very lightly coat. You want enough to add some flavor and allow the seasoning to stick, but not so much that the seeds are oily. Alternatively, you may lightly mist with olive oil spray.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. You could also add another spice of choice, if desired, like curry or chili powder. 
  4. Microwave the seeds: Spread the seeds in an even layer on a microwavable plate, and cook on full power for 2 minutes. Stir and continue to cook in 1 minute increments, stirring and spreading into an even layer after each increment, until the seeds are dry, golden, and crisp. This will likely take 5-6 minutes total. 
  5. Storage: Cooled seeds will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for several weeks. 

Don’t like to peel and chop squash? You have options!

  • You could use 4½ to 5 cups of pre-chopped butternut squash.
  • Or you could roast the squash: To do this, pierce the squash once or twice along the line that you will later cut it, and then microwave on full power for 3 minutes. (This will soften the squash and make cutting it in half for roasting easier.) Halve the squash and remove the seeds. If you’re still having trouble, microwave the squash for another minute or two. Rub a light coating of olive oil all over the flesh of the squash, and roast, cut-side down, on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes, give or take a few, or until the squash is lightly golden and very tender when pierced with a knife. Let cool until you can comfortably handle, and then peel the skin away from the flesh. You can peel, quarter, and roast the onion and apple in the same way. If any add-ons are not fully tender when the squash is cooked, simply finish softening in the pot on the stovetop. 
Smooth and luxuriously creamy (but with no cream in sight), a big pot of this satisfying soup comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus there's a list of recipe adjustments to suit every preference.
  • You could fully cook the squash in the microwave. Roasting simply adds an extra layer of flavor. 
Smooth and luxuriously creamy (but with no cream in sight), a big pot of this satisfying soup comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus there's a list of recipe adjustments to suit every preference.

An economical, make-ahead meal that doubles easily and freezes well, the soup is perfect for easy weeknight dinners, at-the-ready lunches, casual dinner parties, and sharing with friends in need.

Classic Curried Butternut Squash Soup (with options)
Yield: 2+ quarts
Butternut squash soup is wholesome, cool-weather comfort food at its best. The following recipe can be used as a framework to achieve your ideal flavor and texture and will also work with a variety of dietary restrictions and preferences, from vegan and vegetarian to gluten- and dairy-free.

Choose the amount of additional liquid added at the end based on how thick or thin you like your soup.
  • 1 large butternut squash, (about 2½ – 3 pounds) peeled, seeded and chopped into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (28ml) olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 large sweet apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4-6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (range allows for easy adjustment on thickness)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and curry powder and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the butternut squash, apple, 4 cups chicken stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the squash and apple are very tender.
  4. Puree in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender, adding more stock to thin to desired consistency.
  • To play up the savory notes, sauté one carrot and one celery stalk, chopped, along with the onion. Omit the apple and top with with crumbled blue cheese or feta and crisp bacon or prosciutto.
  • For a creamy finish, add ½ – 1 cup cream instead of additional broth in the final thinning stage.
  • To play up the sweet flavors, use apple cider for the final cup of liquid.
  • If you are a garlic fan, sauté 3-4 cloves (or more to taste) of minced garlic along with the onions for 30 seconds before adding the squash and remaining ingredients.
  • One tablespoon of minced, fresh ginger can be added along with, or instead of, the garlic.
  • To further enhance the ginger-curry combination, consider using coconut milk as your final liquid addition.
  • For a tangy kick, top the finished soup with a spoonful of plain yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche.
  • Sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds over individual servings.
  • A friend of mine likes to stir in a large dollop of peanut butter for a nutty flavor. This is one add-in I haven’t tried, but it is next on my list!
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The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

Recipe first posted in October 2012. 

Smooth and luxuriously creamy (but with no cream in sight), a big pot of this satisfying soup comes together easily with minimal ingredients. Plus there's a list of recipe adjustments to suit every preference.

This 2012 photo (taken with my first iPhone!) shows a blue cheese and crispy prosciutto topping.


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  1. Sue Snyder

    Hi Ann,
    I’d love to try this soup. Do you know where I may find a stand selling butternut squash right now in the vicinity? My husband goes to Roots Market every Tuesday (to meet his pickers, and buy veg, etc) but I usually do not go since he gets there by first bit light. Cannot wait to try it. Thanks, Sue

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Sue, You should be able to find butternut squash at the grocery store, Central Market, and other farmers markets right now. Roots would have them too. I just don’t get there to know where to direct you. If your husband would prefer to buy the squash there, I’m sure someone would direct him if he asks. Enjoy!

  2. Sue Hoxworth

    Hello Ann,
    How far ahead could I make this soup? I would like to make it on a Monday and serve on Wednesday. Do you think that it will be just as good as the day I made it?
    Thank you for all your great recipes and tips!
    Sue Hoxworth

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Sue, This soup will definitely last for two days and will likely taste just a good for several more. It does freeze well, too, but I wouldn’t bother for that amount of time. Enjoy and say hello to Mr. H!

  3. Lisa Post author

    This is one of your many recipes that I always come back to – we just think it’s THE best! Just made a vat of it for a soup Sunday at my church and it was a hit. The options I always use are coconut milk and grated fresh ginger. I also usually add chicken and kale. One other flavor addition that I came up with is to add a little freshly grated nutmeg when I can find actual nutmegs.

    1. Ann Post author

      I’m thrilled this has been a go-to recipe for you, Lisa, and appreciate the thoughtful feedback. Your additions of chicken and kale sound lovely!

  4. ~ Jess

    I was excited to find you featuring a Pumpkin Soup recipe! I’m a New Zealander (now living in PA) and this is one of my favourite kinds of soup and something we make fairly often during the colder months. In fact, I just made it yesterday! My family’s recipe is almost identical to yours, it too includes curry and I love the extra flavour that it brings. This time I wanted it a bit more spicy so I also added some Cayenne Pepper also. We normally use brown sugar for a little bit of sweetness but I liked the idea of including an apple. I’m looking forward to trying your other variations too. As for the peanut butter, sounds fascinating and I can see that working well. Thank you for the extra ideas! 🙂

    1. Ann

      You have come a long way! Welcome to PA…that is where I live, too! Thank you for your wonderful comments and I hope you enjoy some of the variations. I like you idea of adding some cayenne!

  5. Mary Lou Keller

    Let me know how that turns out! I need to get to our Farmer’s Market tomorrow to get more squash. I am going to make this one weekend.

  6. Mary Lou Keller

    ooohhhh I love butternut squash. I need to try this on a weekend. Only thing I dislike about the squash is trying to peel and cut them up. It is a battle of epic proportions and I am terrified of cutting myself (lately that has been an issue with me)

    Do you have tips on the best way to wrangle this fabulous vegetable?


    1. Ann

      They are hard to cut, Mary Lou! I have been most successful with using a vegetable peeler and then using a large knife to cut into big chunks. How about this…you could pierce the skin with a knife a few times and microwave it until it is just a bit soft. That way, you won’t have to wrestle so much with it and risk cutting yourself. Let me know how you make out. P.S. My friend who adds the peanut butter called me the day I posted this and said she was making her peanut butter version that day. I still have to try that!

      1. Terri D.

        A Y-peeler makes quick work of peeling…it’s a miracle. I just replaced my old one and it is amazing the difference in the sharpness and how easy it is to peel these hard squash. Try it.

        1. Ann

          Great suggestion, Terri! It is funny you said that because I just replaced an old box grater that I actually use frequently. I had no idea how dull my old one was until I tried the new one!

    2. ~ Jess

      I often use a large knife and cut the squash into big pieces first. Then I lay a piece on its side on the chopping board, and with my fingers on top, start half way down and cut down several times to remove the skin. Then I turn the piece on the opposite side, (holding the top half, now with the skin removed) and do the same thing. This way my fingers are always safely above the knife and I’m always cutting down in a controlled manner. 🙂 Having said all that, yesterday I didn’t use this method and after just sharpening my knife, proceeded to cut myself! Oops. 🙂

      1. Ann

        I love it when people share the tips that work for them. Thanks for taking the time to pass your method along…and make sure you do it that way next time: ) (Says me who has been known to cut herself a time or two!!)