Butternut Squash Soup Recipe That Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash ♥

Butternut Squash Soup that Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash ♥ A Veggie Venture, just three ingredients, silky smooth and quite elegant.
Wow, squash lovers, today's soup is truly something special. How just three ingredients can turn into butternut squash soup so luxuriant, so velvety, so smooth, I have no idea. It's just squash, butter and onion plus water and salt! Best of all, it really does taste like butternut squash, not some spice or some fruit! This sunset-colored soup is so pretty, I even consider serving it in small wine glasses!

Real Food, Seasonal & Sensational. Just Three Ingredients! Beautiful Color. Budget Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free. Rave Reviews.

They Had Me at "Butternut Squash Soup That Tastes Like Butternut Squash".

There's no counting the recipes I've tried, reaching in vain for that color of honeyed gold, making one after another Sisyphean trip up the hill of butternut squash soup worth making, for its own sake, for its own silky-soup winter squash glory.

Finally. I love this soup. I think you will too, I so want you to love this soup!

Just Three Ingredients + Genius Technique

The recipe is all about technique and comes from America's Test Kitchen, that's the parent company to the smart cooks at Cook's Illustrated.

At first glance, it may look complicated and yes, there are a few steps. But since I watch the clock, I know that the recipe takes only 30 minutes of hands-on time and that's for a soup ever-so-worthy of our time.

Even more, the technique is dead easy. I made a few notes watching the ATK video (sorry, it's behind a paywall now) but didn't once refer to them while cooking. Make this soup once, you'll not forget, the technique OR the flavor!

Three Simple But Special Techniques to Extract So Much Flavor

These simple tricks make this butternut squash soup taste like butternut squash. I wonder if the same principles might be applied to other soups too? or other butternut squash dishes?
No Distractions The focus is entirely on the butternut squash, no spices, no fruit, no other attention-grabbing ingredients.
Waste Not, Want Not The squash flavor is bumped up by capturing all the flavor from parts of the squash that are usually relegated to the compost bowl, the seeds and the "gunk" inside the squash bulb. The same technique works so beautifully with Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash & Mushrooms and now also for butternut squash soup!
Water, Not Stock Use water rather than stock for the liquid, again, so not to take away from the delicate butternut squash flavor and color.

How to Make This Soup

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in two easy steps plus one unusual but not difficult step. You can do this!

STEP ONE Sauté onion and the "seeds and gunk" found in the center of the round "bulb" end of the squash. Add water and salt.

Steaming squash for Butternut Squash Soup that Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash ♥ A Veggie Venture, just three ingredients, silky smooth and quite elegant.
STEP TWO (photo) Cut the heavy skins off the squash and cut into large pieces. Elevate a vegetable steamer over top of the onion-gunk-water mixture (I use two pairs of mixer beaters) and steam the squash pieces until soft, about 30-40 minutes.

STEP THREE Set aside the steamed squash, then strain and discard the solids out of the onion-gunk-water mixture, saving the liquid. Taste the liquid, wow! In batches, puree the steamed squash and the liquid, forming a silky-smooth, lovely-hued soup.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Can You Make This Soup Ahead of Time? Yes! In fact, I recommend it. It's just such a luxury to have something so delicious ready and waiting in the fridge, needing only to be reheated and served.
Can You Freeze This Soup? I Think So. I haven't frozen this soup before but I think it would freeze well, especially if only for a couple of weeks in preparation for a big meal like Thanksgiving, say.
Can You Scale This Soup? Yes! The recipe calls for a three-pound butternut squash that yields about 2 pounds of edible squash. But let's say you have two two-pound squashes, a total of four pounds, 1/3 more than three pounds. To scale the recipe, just increase the other ingredients, the butter, the onion, the water, the salt by a third. So easy, eh?!
Can You Use Pre-Cut or Frozen Butternut Squash? No. What's special about this soup is how it extracts flavor from the "seeds and gunk" found inside a whole butternut squash. If you don't want to try that (or don't happen to have whole squash), I'd recommend another recipe, perhaps Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream. Want still more ideas? Check out the soups here along with many other winter squash recipes.
Can You Roast the Squash Instead of Steaming It? I Think So. A reader suggests cooking the squash by roasting it in the oven instead of steaming it on the stove. She's right, it would be easier. And I think it would work well if you roasted the squash at low temperature instead of the usual high temperature, to preserve the eventual color of the soup, you don't want the squash to brown, you really don't want it to develop any color at all.
Can You Use an Immersion Blender to Purée the Soup? If Necessary. A reader suggested using an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the original pot, after removing the solids. I thought this was a great idea! And it kinda-sorta worked. But there's enough liquid that it took a long while to actually grab up and purée all the squash pieces. I got frustrated and switched to the blender and wow, what a difference. The texture of the soup became velvety and unctuous. Moral of the story ... the blender works better.
It's Too Hot to Serve Hot Soup. What About Serving It Cold? Good Idea! I love this idea! And suddenly a single chilled shrimp across the top really makes sense ...

How to Garnish This Soup

Despite its lovely color, by today's Instagram-driven standards, its visual plainness begs for ... something.

First, let me make the case to just serve the soup as is, unadorned. "Wow. This soup is just delicious. Really good. And comforting, too," raved my usually no-comment husband recently.

But after that, consider these ideas.
The Cook's Illustrated called for stirring in a half cup of cream while reheating. To my taste, this is waayyyy too rich.
So I drizzle a tiny touch of cream across the bowls or ramekins, very pretty.
A fellow cook suggests warming the cream, and swoon, adding a splash of dry sherry, before drizzling over top. Or maybe whip some cream and add the sherry? Could you even pass small pitchers of cream at the table? With a tiny liqueur glass of sherry glass at each place?
You could also top the soup with pumpkin seeds (pepitas) toasted in a little butter until golden. I'd also use the lovely Maple-Glazed Pecans or Pumpkin Granola.
Or instead of going for the top of the soup, maybe think of doing small toasts or crackers topping with something on the side, not on top, leaving the beautiful soup unadorned and spectacular.
Or ... provide options, letting the people at your table decide for themselves, what you want!
Or ... how about going a whole different direction, maybe grilling a single large shrimp or sautéeing a single scallop or placing some lump crabmeat. Or caviar? So fancy, I know. But very do-able in the right setting.
So many choices!

"wow.. that is one delicious bowl of soup...." ~ RV
"Yum! Thank you. This is going into my recipe box." ~ Anonymous
Butternut Squash Soup that Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash ♥ A Veggie Venture, just three ingredients, silky smooth and quite elegant.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 8 cups

1 large or 2 smaller butternut squash, about 3 pounds (1400g), washed well
4 tablespoons salted butter (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1/2 large onion or 2 large shallots, chopped fine
Seeds and "Gunk" from the squash 6 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Additional salt to taste

PREP the SQUASH (Want to step-by-step photos? See How to Cut, Peel & Cube a Butternut Squash and Keep All Ten Fingers. The one difference, don't throw away the "gunk" inside the bulb.) Cut off the root and stem ends. Cut off the bulb (that's the rounder end that holds the seeds and "gunk"). With a sharp knife, slice off the heavy skin in wide swaths and discard. Cut the bulb in half and scrape out the seeds and the "gunk" inside. Don't throw the gunk away – this is the brilliant part, it's going to add so much flavor to the soup. Cut the two bulb halves in half again. If the neck is long, cut it in half cross-wise, then cut each piece into quarters, lengthwise.

COOK THE ONION, SEEDS & GUNK In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter until shimmery on MEDIUM HEAT. Add the onion, squash seeds and "gunk" and stir to coat with fat, let cook until the onion softens.

STEAM the SQUASH Add the water and salt to the onion-seed-gunk mixture. Place a collapsible steamer basket in the pot. If the steamer basket is submerged in water, put something underneath to raise it up so the squash can steam, not boil. (I used four beaters from a hand mixer, they worked perfectly.) Arrange the squash pieces in the steamer basket, this takes a little finagling, cutting pieces to fit in a single or double layer, depending on the pot size. Cover and adjust the temperature to bring the water to a boil and then to simmer. Steam the squash for about 30 minutes until the squash is very soft. Turn off the heat and remove the squash pieces to cool (the pot's cover worked perfectly).

SEPARATE THE LIQUID & SOLIDS Drain the contents of the pot through a strainer into a bowl, save the liquid, discard the solids.

PURÉE Add some of the squash to a blender and a cup or two of liquid. Be careful not to fill the blender more than half to 2/3 full (otherwise, this can happen). Purée until smooth and thickening, then pour back into the pot. Repeat with the remaining squash and liquid.

TO SERVE RIGHT AWAY With the heat on MEDIUM LOW, bring the soup back to temperature. Taste and add salt if needed.

TO SERVE LATER Refrigerate the soup for up to two days. Bring the soup back to temperature on MEDIUM LOW heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

I think we could save some calories by using just 2 tablespoons butter. Still, this soup doesn't have a fatty mouthfeel that to me, anyway, points to too much butter.
The second day, this soup is a little bit thicker and just maybe, just a tidge bit better. But I wouldn't hesitate to serve it Day One.

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Still Hungry?

So Yeah, I'm on a Butternut Squash Kick This Year

~ Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar ~
~ Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Tagine ~
~ Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash ~
~ Warm Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing ~

~ How to Cut a Butternut Squash ~
~ My Favorite Winter Squash Recipes ~
~ more winter squash recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Roasted Butternut Squash with Apple ~
~ Chicken or Turkey & Wild Rice Soup ~
~ Winter Stew ~
~ more winter squash recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2010, 2011 & 2020 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I can't wait to try this recipe! I made a huge(18 qts) pot of chicken stock tonight, inspired by your recipe, actually it's still simmering. Warm Regards, Sandy Wates

  2. I love butternut squash soup. This weekend I made three squash soup (with butternut, acorn and spaghetti) and while it was very good, it was butternuty enough! I will try this one out for my Dad - officially the leader in squash consumption. :P

  3. I always enjoy reading and often making the recipes you share, whether yours of shared from other sources. I wonder, however, if I might make a possible suggestion for avoiding the blender/chinois combination.

    While some purists might poo-poo the notion of a stick-blender, I have found my ability to make a "Thai" winter butternut squash soup with a 200W immersion stick blender directly in the stove-top pot to yield quote possibly the most velvety-smooth soup consistency I have yet encountered, professional or homemade.

    Another "benefit", if you would like more flavor to also be puréed, separate the solid shallot bits from the seeds and 'gunk' after straining back into the soup before hitting with the stick blender. It will make quick work of liquefying the shallots with their absorbed squash flavors back into the soup. (Still, I would absolutely avoid re-including the squash seeds and the fibrous 'gunk' -- although someone once suggested a method to include the squash seeds as an edible and decorative garnish, either atop the soup, or along side. *g*)

    Certainly not a critique or a replacement for the blender/chinois method, but a alternative consideration for those possessing the hardware.

  4. Thanks for posting this recipe-I love the flavor of butternut and don't like the soups where I can't taste it's delicious flavor. I'll be making this one!

  5. wow.. that is one delicious bowl of soup.... just bought butternut squash for the first time... waiting to taste this veggie...

  6. I just made a soup like this today. You can save sooo much time and trouble if you just cut that baby in half (the squash) and roast it slowly in the oven until it's very soft. I was just hanging around cleaning house as it cooked. Then turn off the oven, let it cool there. Then just scoop that flesh out. I used onions instead of shallots. And I loove my stick blender. It made quick work of the whole thing with just some tiny pieces to give it a rustic look and mouth feel. My seasoning was curry powder. But the squash tastes still comes through. I add cream to mine (Adkins). The squash has some carbs, but we will use small portions to begin our little dinners.

  7. Susan, Granted there are simpler recipes, I've tried several over the years. But at least in my kitchen, to my palate, until this recipe, none of the soups really tasted like butternut squash. They were too watery, too apple cider-y, etc, too spiced up. Also -- you really don't need to cut the squashes in half, I've got three cooling right now. Watch for the technique in a new post next week.

  8. OK, I'm sold. This sounds wonderful, and seems pretty easy to prepare.

    I've been looking for a new recipe for butternut squash soup, and I agree with you that many (most) squash soups don't taste all that much like squash! Thanks.

  9. this is pretty much the recipe I use although I do add a pinch of nutmeg and leave out shallots or onion. I use the liquid from baking the squash (about 1.5 cup water in baking dish) as it has all the flavor and goodies. I sometimes use a dash of curry powder as well for a change.

  10. I made your recipe yesterday and my husband really liked it. I found your recipe after I had already heated the oven to roast my squash, so I cut it into pieces as you described and roasted it instead of steaming it. For serving, I drizzled some warm heavy cream spiked with dry sherry over the top. Yum! Thank you. This is going into my recipe box.

    1. Hey ~ You had me at “warm heavy cream spiked with warm sherry” ... putting this soup on our Thanksgiving-for-Two menu ... thanks so much for taking the time to let me (and other readers) know!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna