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. It’s sweet, silky, and slightly spicy. Although the list of ingredients is rather simple, the end result offers an exceptionally rich flavor.
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. So, how do all these taste play out in this butternut squash soup?
Tips for Making Butternut Squash Soup
The main ingredient in this soup is, you guessed it, butternut squash. It’s definitely sweet, but the sweetness isn’t overbearing. It turns out to be delicate enough to mix rather well with all sorts of tastes.
Another essential ingredient for this soup is vegetable broth, which provides the hard-to-pin-down umami taste that plain water can’t. I would recommend that you make your own because it tastes so much better than the store-bought version. I make a very basic vegetable broth from veggie scraps I collect throughout the week.
To make this soup creamy and dreamy, I use coconut milk. I fell in love with coconut milk in a Thai cooking class a few years ago. Coconut milk adds a wonderfully rich texture and slightly sweet flavor. Seek out coconut milk from Thailand – it’s consistently the best.
A little squeeze of fresh lime juice into a pot of cooling soup 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. Just don’t add it while the soup still cooks because it can cause discoloration and a bitter flavor. In my opinion, lemon and lime pair really well with vegetable-based soups while vinegar is most suitable for hearty bean soups.
Most of the soup’s flavor comes from the cooking method, which starts with roasting the butternut squash and caramelizing the onions. Roasting is a great technique especially for sweet vegetables because it breaks down large sugars into smaller, sweeter ones, intensifying the vegetables’ natural sweetness. 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.
Like any great vegetable soup, the end result should be something that tastes like a liquefied, purified, intensified version of itself – this soup should taste more than actual butternut squash. The magic lies in the way that aromatic ingredients intensify and bring out other flavors. Roasted aromatics have a deep sweetness and a gorgeous amber color. Generally, the deeper the color, the sweeter the flavor.
Finally, don’t add too much liquid. When you add broth to your soup, pour in just enough so the blender can do its job. If, after you blend it, your purée is too thick, add more broth in small increments. You can always add more broth, but you can’t remove it. Good butternut squash soup should be thick and hearty, not watery and bland.
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.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix 750) | 2. Griddle (12-Inch, Lodge, Cast Iron) | 3. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 4. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 5. Measuring Cup (2 Cups, Anchor Hocking, Glass) | 6. Can Opener (Zyliss, Stainless Steel) | 7. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 8. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
Nutrition Refined is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites — at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!
This butternut squash soup is everything you expect from a traditional butternut squash soup. It's sweet, silky, and slightly spicy. Although the list of ingredients is rather simple, the end result offers an exceptionally rich flavor.
- 2 squashes (2 lb/1 kg each)
- 1 yellow onion, halved
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup butternut squash seeds (from 2 squashes)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. olive oil
- salt, to taste
Roast the squash, Preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds (reserve the seeds for later). Place the squash cut side up on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and season with salt. Turn the squash cut side down and roast until tender and completely cooked through, 45-50 minutes. Set the squash aside until cool enough to handle. Then use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bow land discard the tough skin.
Roast the aromatics. Transfer the onion and unpeeled garlic cloves onto another baking sheet (or use the sheet with butternut squash if you have enough room), rub a little oil on the cut-side of the onion (optional), and place on the baking sheet. Roast the aromatics with the butternut squash until tender, 25 to 35 minutes, turning halfway.
Blend the butternut squash. Transfer the roasted squash and aromatics into a high-speed blender. Add the coconut milk, ginger, maple syrup, lime juice, vegetable broth, red pepper flakes (optional), and salt, and blend until smooth. Thin with additional vegetable broth if too thick.
Season. Taste and adjust the flavor as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, maple syrup for sweetness, lime juice for acidity, ginger for a spicy bite, and red pepper flakes for heat.
Serve. Garnish the soup with a drizzle of coconut milk and the toasted butternut squash seeds. Serve hot, straight out of the blender.
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.
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.
*Nutrition information is calculated without optional ingredients.
*Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.