As soon as October hits, a bowl of warm butternut squash soup becomes a staple on practically every restaurant menu. Well, in our house, butternut squash soup is a staple all year round. This butternut squash soup is everything you expect from a traditional butternut squash soup – rich, creamy, and full of roasted butternut squash flavor. It’s vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.
One of the reasons I love cooking so much is that it’s half science and half art. The technical parts of cooking involve chemistry, mathematics and physics. The art of cooking involves pleasing the eye and the palate. Understanding how ingredients and their tastes interact with one another can help you be a better improviser in the kitchen.
This butternut squash soup is a great example of how various flavors play out in one recipe. In general there are five tastes recognized in current culinary circles – salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Making delicious food is all about balancing these tastes.
Salty tastes exactly what it sounds like – salty. It enhances the flavor of food, particularly sweetness, and balances out bitter tastes. Sweet balances out sour and bitter tastes, and is a natural complement to salty. Sour is often confused with bitter, but the two are very different. Sour works wonders in balancing a dish, adding liveliness and counteracting sweetness and heat. Bitter is critical to balance as well, making food interesting. Umami doesn’t really balance out other tastes as much as it can enhance an entire dish by providing some savory notes.
Sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter are all balanced by each other. If you taste one stronger than the rest, consider adding some or all of the others to bring it into balance. If you are able to have all four tastes present and balanced, you have a brilliant dish on your hands, like this roasted butternut squash soup.
Tips for Making Butternut Squash Soup
Although the list of ingredients for this soup is rather simple, the end result offers an exceptionally rich flavor. The few ingredients you will need are:
- Butternut squash: the main ingredients in this soup is, you guessed it, butternut squash. It’s definitely sweet, but the sweetness isn’t overbearing. Look for a butternut squash that is darker in color (the darker and more uniform the color, the better), feels heavy for its size, and sounds hollow inside when you give it a tap.
- Onion and garlic: most good soup recipes start with aromatics because they deliver deep, rounded flavor. You could also use a classic mirepoix.
- Coconut milk: the flavor of coconut milk is a little bit less traditional for butternut squash soup, but so good! It also makes the soup really rich and creamy. If you don’t like coconut milk, you can leave it out or add a little bit of butter instead (plant-based or regular).
- Ginger: the warm, spicy flavor of ginger highlights the autumnal taste of squash. Together with the coconut milk, it also gives the soup somewhat of a Thai twist.
- Lime juice: a little squeeze of fresh lime juice is all it takes to brighten all the flavors and make the whole butternut squash soup shine. It’s amazing how a dull soup can come to life with a bit of acidic element.
- Vegetable broth: the backbone of any soup, which provides the hard-to-pin-down umami taste that plain water can’t. Of course, homemade vegetable broth is best.
- Salt: to bring all the flavors into balance, particularly the sweetness of the squash, you will need salt. The amount will depend on whether your vegetable broth already contains salt.
How to Make Butternut Squash Soup
Most of the soup’s flavor comes from roasting the butternut squash and the aromatics. You could certainly make a traditional butternut squash soup on the stovetop, but roasting is a great technique especially for sweet vegetables because it breaks down large sugars into smaller, sweeter ones, intensifying the vegetables’ natural sweetness.
- Cut and seed the butternut squash. start by slicing the ends off the butternut squash (to create a flat surface). Then stand the butternut squash on the larger end and slice through it lengthwise. Lay the squash cut-side up and using a large spoon, scoop the seeds.
- Roast the butternut squash. Sprinkle the squash with a little bit of salt, drizzle it with olive oil (optional) and place it cut-side down onto a baking sheet. Roast the squash at 425°F/218°C for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. The more deeply you brown the squash in the oven, the more intense and caramelized its flavor will be. And since you’ll be puréing the soup anyway, there’s no real risk of overcooking the squash aside from flat-out burning it. One of the most common issues with creamy soups comes from under-cooking the vegetables. The squash should be uniformly soft, with little to no resistance when you test it with a fork.
- Roast the aromatics. Lightly coat the onion and garlic with olive oil and add them to the squash at the 30-minute point. The onion will need about half an hour whereas the garlic will be golden and fragrant in just a few minutes, so keep an eye on it. Roasted aromatics have a deep sweetness and a gorgeous amber color. Generally, the deeper the color, the sweeter the flavor.
- Blend. Scoop out the butternut squash flesh into a high-speed blender. Then add the roasted aromatics, coconut milk, ginger, lime juice, vegetable broth, and salt, and blend until completely smooth. Start with less vegetable broth. You can always add more later to thin the soup down. Good butternut squash soup should be thick and hearty.
How to Serve Butternut Squash Soup
As satisfying and warming as butternut squash soup can be, it can also look and feel like it’s lacking something. That’s where garnishes come in. I typically top the soup with roasted butternut squash seeds (or pumpkin seeds), garnish it with fresh parsley leaves, sprinkle it with freshly cracked black pepper or even red pepper flakes.
You can enjoy this soup as a side or main dish. When I’m making it the center of a meal, I serve it with crusty bread or bread croutons.
How to Store Butternut Squash Soup
The great thing about puréed soups is that they taste even better the next day. So, make sure you make a large batch to have enough for leftovers.
Refrigerate: allow the soup to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
Freeze: allow soup to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container (leaving a little bit of room for expansion) and freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Transfer frozen soup into the refrigerator 24 hours before reheating to thaw slightly. Reheat in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until hot. Add ¼ cup/60 ml water/broth at a time if too thick.
More Puréed Soup Recipes
If you’re interested in more puréed soup recipes, I have an entire blog post with Vitamix soup recipes and tips for making blended soups. Some of the recipes include:
- Cream of broccoli soup: this broccoli soup is packed with vegetables but you would never know. It has the most luxurious texture – creamy, velvety smooth, and rich – and undoubtedly falls into the comfort food category.
- Cream of cauliflower soup: even though this soup uses no cream or cheese but is still rich and creamy. What makes this cauliflower soup shine is roasted cauliflower with its rich and nutty taste and caramelized aromatics.
- Cream of mushroom soup: if you love cream of mushroom soup and want to skip the canned stuff, this soup is your new favorite soup. It’s so creamy, rich, and satisfying that you would never guess it’s dairy-free. It has an enticing texture of fresh mushrooms and a layer of flavor from the humble cauliflower.
- Gazpacho: there are a million and one versions of gazpacho out there, so this is my most basic recipe to get you started. This soup is refreshing, light and flavor-packed, with a rich, smooth texture.
If you try any of these recipes, please, leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.
Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 (3-lb) butternut squash
- 1 yellow onion , halved
- 3 cloves garlic , unpeeled
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- salt, to taste
Toasted Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/2 cup butternut squash seeds (from 2 squashes)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. olive oil
- salt, to taste
Butternut Squash Soup
- Preheat the oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 425ºF/218ºC.
- Cut and seed the butternut squash. Slice the ends off the butternut squash to create a flat surface. Stand the butternut squash on the bulb end and slice through it lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds.
- Roast the butternut squash. Drizzle the butternut squash with a little bit of olive oil, season it with salt, and place it cut-side down onto a baking sheet (you can line the baking sheet with parchment paper for an easier clean up). Roast the butternut squash until tender, for 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.
- Roast the aromatics. At the 20-minute mark, lightly coat the onion with olive oil and place it cut-side down onto the baking sheet together with the unpeeled garlic cloves*. Continue roasting the butternut squash with the aromatics.
- Blend. Scoop out the butternut squash flesh into a high-speed blender. Then add the roasted aromatics, coconut milk, ginger, lime juice, vegetable broth, and salt, and blend until completely smooth. Thin with additional vegetable broth if too thick.
- Season. Taste and adjust the flavor as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, lime juice for acidity, and ginger for a spicy bite. If the soup is not sweet enough, you can add a little bit of maple syrup.
- Serve. Garnish the soup with a drizzle of coconut milk and toasted butternut squash seeds. Serve hot, straight out of the blender.
- Store. Leftover soup keeps well covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. For longer term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Leftover toasted butternut squash seeds keep well at room temperature for 1 week. For longer term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Reheat. Transfer frozen soup into the refrigerator 24 hours before reheating to thaw slightly. Reheat in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until hot. Add ¼ cup/60 ml water/broth at a time if too thick.
Toasted Butternut Squash Seeds
- Clean the butternut squash seeds. Pinch away all the large chunks of squash flesh and strings. Place the seeds into a strainer and rinse under cold running water to remove any additional squash flesh. Transfer the seeds onto a clean kitchen towel (or paper towel) and dry thoroughly.
- Toast the seeds. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F/150°C. Transfer the cleaned butternut squash seeds onto a bare baking sheet. Add the pumpkin seeds, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and toss to coat. Spread the seeds into a single layer and toast until the seeds begin to brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.