Butternut Squash Soup with roasted butternut squash, apples, and caramelized onions in a rich, creamy, dairy-free soup. Perfect for soup season and holiday menus!
One of my favorite times of the year is when the weather starts turning a little chilly in the evenings. I immediately start thinking about soups, don’t you?
Maybe because the cold makes us stay inside and slow down from the chaos of summer activities, but there’s just something comforting about gathering around the table with bowls of warm, homey soup.
This Butternut Squash Soup is not a come-home-from-work and throw something together dish, although with a little planning, you can roast the squash ahead of time and throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning. But otherwise, this is a Saturday evening, sit around the table and enjoy family and friends dish.
The soup is creamy and rich but there’s no cream—we puree the soup and that’s what gives it a nice hefty creaminess! This soup is nutritious, naturally gluten-free and can easily be adapted to be vegan.
It’s also a great addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu—you can make it a day or two or three ahead—and it’s actually a lot easier to pull together than the list of ingredients and directions imply, so give it a try—you’ll be glad you did!
What makes this the best butternut squash soup:
Roasting the squash. While it does take a little more time to roast the butternut squash in the oven, the resulting flavor is so much deeper and richer than just boiling the butternut squash.
Caramelizing the onions. This one is so important. There is just nothing like the flavor from properly caramelized onions. They are brown and slightly sweet, and AMAZING.
Apples. Some butternut squash soup recipes don’t include apple, but this is a mistake. Butternut squash + apple = love. The apple lends a little sweetness to balance the savory, giving you a perfectly balanced soup.
Puree. Using your immersion blender to puree this soup right in the pot is what gives it the smooth, creamy texture that is best with butternut squash soup. Plus it’s super easy and much better than trying to get hot soup back and forth between the pot and a regular blender!
It’s EASY. Yes, you are roasting the squash and caramelizing the onions in separate pans, but once that part is done everything gets dumped in the pot and you can move on to other things, like relaxing in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a good book!
How to make butternut squash soup:
Step 1. Preheat oven to 400°. First, roast the squash: cut each squash in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out of the center. Lay all four halves, flesh side up, on a baking sheet.
Pro Tip: You can microwave the squash for a few minutes to make it easier to slice in half. Follow these instructions for microwaving winter squash.
Pro Tip #2: Even easier—I usually buy already cut butternut squash from Costco and have seen it in the grocery store as well.
Step 2. Drizzle the squash with about 3 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. (Seasonings are an estimate). Roast until very soft, about an hour.
Step 3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Step 4. Scoop the pulp from the squash and discard the skin.
Step 5. Place the squash, apples, and caramelized onions (see instructions below for caramelizing the onions) in a large Dutch oven.
Step 6. Add the curry powder, ginger, and a pinch of allspice, chili powder or cayenne if using, 2 cups chicken stock, salt and pepper, and 1 cup of cider.
Pro tip: You can start with less of the liquid and add more as the soup cooks, depending on your personal preference for soupiness and sweetness. Just be sure you add enough to keep the squash from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Step 7. Bring to a boil, then turn down and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until apples are soft.
Pro tip: At this point you can add more stock and/or a little more cider or water, just don’t get it too sweet. The soup should be slightly sweet and thick.
Step 8. When the soup is pureed (put it back in the pot if you used a food processor) taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Pro tip: I use an immersion blender to purée the soup, but you can also use a food processor or blender.
While the squash is roasting, caramelize the onions:
- Chop the onions coarsely.
- Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high in a wide skillet so the onions have as much contact with the pan as possible.
- Add the onions, stirring to coat the onions well with the oil.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes. If the onions start to burn then turn the heat down slightly. Here are more detailed instructions on how to caramelize onions.
Toppings and flavor varieties
- Crispy, toasted croutons are marvelous on top of this soup
- Crumbled goat or feta cheese
- Crispy, fried sage leaves
- Crispy pieces of prosciutto or bacon
- Toasted pepitas
- Drizzle a little sour cream—I like to stir it with a spoonful or two of half-and-half to get a more liquid consistency
- Sprinkle smoked paprika or a bit of cayenne pepper
We usually just eat a bowl of this soup without anything else, but if you’re looking for a larger meal then I’d suggest one of these sides:
Can you freeze butternut squash soup?
Absolutely! I just about always have a few quarts of this delicious soup tucked away in my freezer. The recipe makes a large quantity so we always have leftovers.
Pro Tip: For best results, use freezer-safe containers like these and store up to 3 months.
The soup will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
- You can roast the squash and caramelize the onions a day or two ahead and then make the soup another day.
- Taste as you go—you may not want as much stock and apple cider. You can easily tweak this soup to make it more or less soupy and more or less sweet, depending on your personal preference.
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Butternut Squash Apple Soup
- 2 large butternut squash or 5-6 lbs., chopped
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5 cups large onions, about 4 chopped
- 4 large sweet apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (McIntosh, Rome or Gala)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 – 1 ½ cups good apple cider
- 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°. Roast the squash: cut each squash in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out of the center. Lay all four halves, flesh side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. (Seasonings are an estimate). Roast until very soft, about an hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- While the squash are roasting, caramelize the onions: chop the onions coarsely. Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat in a wide skillet so the onions have as much contact with the pan as possible. Add the onions, stirring to coat the onions well with the oil. Cook, stirring frequently, for about thirty minutes. If the onions start to burn then turn the heat down slightly.
- Scoop the pulp from the squash and discard the skin. Place the squash pulp, apples and onions in a large Dutch oven. Add 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup cider. Stir in the curry powder, nutmeg and ginger, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, the chili powder and/or cayenne pepper (if using) and bring to a boil. Turn down to a low simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until apples are soft. Stir frequently to keep from sticking.
- Puree the soup using an immersion blender or scooping out into regular blender. At this point you can add additional stock and/or a little more cider, just don’t get it too sweet. The soup should be slightly sweet and thick. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- You can microwave the squash for a few minutes to make it easier to slice in half. Follow these instructions for microwaving winter squash.
- You can also buy already cut butternut squash from Costco or Trader Joe’s and some grocery stores.
- Start with less of the liquid and add more as the soup cooks, depending on your personal preference for soupiness and sweetness. Just be sure you add enough to keep the squash from sticking to the bottom of the pot. I usually end up using all the liquid that the recipe calls for but that’s my preference.
- The soup should be slightly sweet and thick.
- I use an immersion blender to purée the soup, but you can also use a food processor or blender.
Update Notes: This post was originally published September 27, 2010, and on January 9, 2019, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.
This recipe has been adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and Chef Sukim from the Washington Inn (now closed).