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.
How do I “toast” the seeds in a microwave?
- 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.
- 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.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. You could also add another spice of choice, if desired, like curry or chili powder.
- 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.
- 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.
- You could fully cook the squash in the microwave. Roasting simply adds an extra layer of flavor.
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
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
Add the onion and curry powder and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 4-5 minutes.
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.
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!
Recipe first posted in October 2012.