A smoky and creamy butternut squash soup with Gruyère croutons that turn a simple soup recipe into a full blown feast. I make this soup without cream, just with wonderful winter squash, vegetable broth and warming spices.
Autumn to me is the season of orange food. I eat roasted sweet potatoes several times a week, I make sweet potato smoothies, I bake pumpkin brioche with cinnamon and whip up my own pumpkin puree. And I make a lot of soup. And this easy butternut squash soup recipe is my latest obsession.
It’s a creamy soup with incredible flavor. I always mix in some smoked paprika and maple syrup. They make the most delicious soup that is warming and perfect for Fall. I always serve it with homemade cheesy croutons with lacy crisp Gruyere edges that add some crunch and nuttiness to the overall dish. (Ina Garten’s grilled cheese croutons would be fun too.)
About the recipe
This is a a simple and traditional soup recipe that uses few ingredients, but they all pack so much flavor.
I start by sautéing onions in oil and a smidge of butter, followed by smoked paprika and tomato paste. Sweet smoked paprika gives the soup a light smoky flavor, like it was roasted over a fire. And tomato paste gives it that rich umami punch.
What follows is a lot of chopped butternut squash. Any winter squash works. I like butternut because it is easily available throughout the season.
The trick in making a creamy soup without cream is not using too much stock. You need just enough to cover most of the vegetables. It doesn’t matter how many vegetables you are using. You can halve or double this recipe without exact measurements. Your goal in adding vegetable broth should always be to add barley enough. Once the squash cooks and you puree it, you’ll have the perfect texture.
For a final finishing touch I add maple syrup. It highlights the sweet notes of butternut squash, making this soup feel extra cozy.
There is nothing quite like getting home on a cold Fall day and being welcomed by hot butternut squash soup with homemade gruyere croutons.
To make the croutons, I like to use a day old baguette (any white bread will do, but a baguette has a lot of crust which I love). I slice it into bite-sized cubes. Then I drown them in Gruyere, a wonderful French cheese with a nutty flavor that pairs so well with butternut squash.
When you add the grated cheese, it may look like too much cheese. But Gruyere shrinks as it bakes and what looks like a lot will seem much more reasonable when you pull it out of the oven.
Any bits of cheese that won’t stay on the bread will instead melt and pool under the croutons forming a crispy cheese lace that is incredible to eat.
How to make
By far the most complicated part of this recipe is peeling the butternut squash. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but it’s so worth it in the end. My biggest advice is that you use a sharp peeler, it makes all the difference.
If you wish, you can bake the squash unpeeled in the oven. Roasted butternut squash flesh can be used the same way as butternut squash cubes, it just cuts down on cooking time. I’ve also seen people microwave the squash for a minute before peeling. It should soften the skin just enough to make it easier to remove.
I start by cutting off the top and bottom of the squash to remove the stems. Then I peel as much of the skin as I can. I only cut butternut squash in half lengthwise if it’s small, otherwise I cut it in half at the smallest middle part, then proceed cutting it lengthwise. I scrape out the seeds and pulp, cut away any remaining bits of skin and then cut it into cubes.
Once your squash is peeled, you can start making the soup. You heat olive oil and butter in a large pot (I’m using a 4 QT Staub). Add the onions and cook them for about 5 minutes, until they’re translucent. Add the paprika and tomato paste, cook for another minute, then top with squash and thyme.
Toast the squash like this for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This will give it some flavor (an alternative to roasting squash) before you cover it with broth. After 5 minutes, stir in garlic and all the vegetable stock, just so it mostly covers the vegetables.
You cook the soup covered until the squash is tender and easily broken apart with a spatula. Remove the pot from heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. If you don’t have it, you can also puree the soup in a food processor or blender (do it in batches to prevent overfilling). Once it’s completely smooth and creamy, mix in maple syrup and salt (to taste).
Make the croutons as the soup cooks. Take your baguette or bread of choice and slice it into bite-sized chunks (about 1/2 inch or 1-cm in size). Place them on a baking sheet and toss them with some olive oil. Then cover them with grated Gruyere cheese.
Bake croutons for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and bread golden brown. Then remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.
How to serve
While this soup is perfectly creamy on its own, I do like to serve it with a dollop of sour cream. A mix of hot, sweet butternut squash soup and cold, tangy sour cream is absolutely delicious.
If you don’t like sour cream, you can use creme fraiche instead. Or to make soup without any cream mix-ins, you can add acid with apple cider vinegar. Stir a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the whole pot of soup before serving. (To make a vegan butternut squash soup that is fully dairy free, skip the butter in the beginning too.)
I finish the soup with crunchy, nutty Gruyere croutons and fresh chopped parsley.
If you want to skip the croutons (although you shouldn’t), you can make these herb parmesan biscuits instead. They are tender, buttery and packed with herbs that go perfect with soup. My sun dried tomato rolls are wonderful too.
How to store
Store leftover butternut squash soup in the refrigerator and eat within 2-3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
This is a velvety, thick soup. But know that it will thicken even more as it cools. If you find that it’s too thick once you reheat it, you can add some vegetable broth or water to the soup. Always start with minimal additions, about 1/4 cup (60 ml) per serving. (You can always add more, but you’d have to cook it for longer to reduce it back to a thick soup.)
Frozen butternut squash soup can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator. If you want to thaw it fast, you can add it to your pot frozen with about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of water or stock and cook it covered and slowly over medium-low heat until it thaws completely. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
Store leftover croutons wrapped in parchment paper in an airtight container or plastic bag. They will hold up for about a week.
More soup recipes to explore
- Hearty vegetable barley soup with potatoes (An amazing, filling soup that can be served as a main course.)
- Cruciferous vegetable soup (aka my Winter green soup. It’s nourishing and uses a whole bag of vegetables.)
- Creamy cauliflower soup with potatoes (Very filling, delicious and quick to make.)
Butternut squash soup with Gruyere croutons
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 pounds (1800 g) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 4 cups (960 ml) vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, or to taste
- 1 baguette, or 4-6 big slices of crusty bread
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 6 oz (170 g) Gruyere cheese, finely grated
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Heat oil and butter in a 4 qt (4 liter) pot set over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are soft and golden.
- Stir in tomato paste, paprika and thyme. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the spices get aromatic. Add all the squash and let it cook like this for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- Stir in the garlic. Then add all of the stock, it should cover most of the squash. Turn up the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then cover the pot, lower the heat back to medium and cook for 20-30 minutes until the squash is tender and can be easily mashed with a fork.
- As the soup cooks, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch (1-cm) cubes. Add them to the baking sheet and toss them with oil.
- Sprinkle grated cheese all over the sliced bread. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- When the squash is cooked, turn off the heat. Puree the soup with an immersion blender. When it’s completely smooth, stir in the maple syrup and salt.
- Serve soup with a spoonful of creme fraiche or sour cream (optional), cheesy Gruyere croutons and chopped parsley.
- Store leftover soup in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Keep leftover croutons in an airtight bag.