A luxuriously creamy (yet cream-less!) butternut squash soup that is loaded with veggies while still allowing the butternut squash to shine! An optional sweet and savory topping of caramelized onions, sweet apples, and salty bacon kicks up the tasty factor even more. This recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free and also includes simple suggestions for making it vegan!
It's the week before Thanksgiving and I'm coming to you with soup. I'll confess, I thought it would be a turkey. Maybe you were hoping it would be too. Next year friends. Maybe.
Buuuuut....if ever there was a soup that we should be making RIGHT NOW, it should definitely be this one.
But first, a thank you...
Before we talk about all things soup and dive into this bowl of creamy tastiness that has been on repeat at my house for the last month, I want to express my deep appreciation and thanks to so many of you.
I am abundantly grateful to those of you who over the last three months have sent me kind messages, posted loving comments, came alongside me in person to just listen (in the moments when there were words to say and in the moments when there were no words to be found), left phone messages, those who gave hugs, those who nourished my soul with food when the grief took over my motivation to cook, and those who drove from both near and far to just be a comforting and available presence.
I am thankful for you.
And I am thankful for your love and compassion toward me during a difficult time as I adjust, grieve, and process the loss of my best friend.
This season of life with grieving has not been easy. But I am okay.
I'm not saying I'm okay with losing my best friend to breast cancer. I hate cancer and I hate what it did to her body. And I miss her like crazy and daily wrestle with the feelings of "if only I could tell her this" or "if only she were here to see this." But in spite of those moments, I'm okay. And sometimes being 'just okay' is not a bad place to be in.
I am taking all that comes with experiencing great loss day by day, and sometimes just moment by moment. I recently read this quote by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross (she is the voice who introduced the world to her theory of the five stages of grief) that currently resonates with me:
"The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same again. Nor should you be the same, nor should you want to."
And that's where I'm at.
And thank you for being with me in it.
And now I'd really like to talk about this soup. Cue awkward transition.
🌟 Why you'll love this recipe
This creamy butternut squash soup IS THE BEST.
I kind of want to enter it into a soup competition because it's THAT good. It doesn't matter how many other millions of butternut squash soup recipes there are already out there vying for the fame and glory of being the best soup on the world wide web. THIS ONE. THIS creamy butternut squash soup is THE BEST.
This amazing soup is:
- Loaded with vegetables, so maybe it should be named The Best Creamy Vegetable Soup instead. However, once the butternut squash is added to the veggie party all those other veggies seem to take backstage and instead lend themselves to an added depth of flavor.
- Soooo creamy, BUT it's a cream-less creamy for all of you needing some slurpy goodness that's dairy-free. Think silky luxuriousness that makes you want to just dump your whole face right into the bowl for a soup facial. Is that a thing yet? Soup facials? I could maybe get on board with that. Too weird? Maybe? Oooor maybe not?!?! Maybe I'm on to something...
- Perfect as-is but even more amazing with this sweet and savory soup topping. The topping is totally optional but think of it as a tasty flavor bonus. Chunks of caramelized onion with crispy, salty bacon pieces, and slightly sautéed diced, sweet Honeycrisp apple. Uuuugh, it's SO good.
- Perfectly flavorful (in my humble opinionated opinion). Perfectly balanced, perfectly butternut squash-ey, and perfectly tasty.
- A great recipe for meal prep or a comforting meal to take to someone in need of a little TLC. This soup freezes really well making it a great go-to meal for when you're in a pinch to get dinner on the table. It's also a wonderful meal to take to a friend or family you know who has been suddenly thrown into a new season of life perhaps caused by loss, a health situation, or welcoming a new baby and could just really use a helping hand with meals.
🛒 Ingredients & suggestions
- Carrots - Orange, white, purple, or yellow. Any color of carrot will do (but purple will alter the color of your soup some).
- Parsnip - Similar in sweetness to a carrot, while adding just the right amount of nutty, earthy pizzazz to this squash soup.
- Coconut milk - Full-fat (versus lite) canned coconut milk is my preference for achieving that next-level silky and creamy soup texture. Not a fan of coconut milk? Use heavy cream or whole milk instead (but the soup will no longer be dairy-free if you do).
- Chicken Broth - Or use vegetable broth to make the soup vegan!
- Ingredients for Optional Topping - Sauteed bacon (uncured, no sugar added, thick-cut), sweet onion, Honeycrisp apple, and Italian parsley are an awesome topping combo on this soup for an extra little punch of yummm.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities see the recipe card at the end of this post.
🔪 Step-by-step instructions
Step 1: Add a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic, carrots, onion, celery, and parsnip. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Step 2: Add butternut squash, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat.
Step 3: Add broth and bring to a low boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and let it simmer babe. Give it 20 minutes or so for those hunks of squash to become fork tender.
Step 4: Time to make the soup smooth and creamy! Transfer the soup in two batches to a high-speed blender (being careful not to fill the blender too full with the hot liquid, no exploding blenders please).
Step 5: Allow the blender to run until the soup is silky and dreamy.
Step 6: Return soup to the pot and add in the coconut milk, stirring to combine.
Step 7: Allow the soup to cook for a few more minutes over medium heat.
Step 8: Time to eat! Top your soup with the optional bacon-apple-onion topping (see below for step by step instructions) and a drizzle of coconut milk if you wanna be extra fancy. 💃
🔪 Step-by-step instructions for optional soup topping
Step 1: Add bacon and onion to a skillet and sauté for about 5-10 minutes until the bacon is crispy, its fat has rendered, and the onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Drain off the grease and return the skillet to the stovetop.
Step 2: Add the apple and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Step 3: Add parsley and give it quick stir.
Step 4: Your tasty soup topping is ready to garnish some butternut squash soup!
👩🍳 Recipe tips!
- Alright, let's be honest for a moment. Peeling and cubing a butternut squash can be downright difficult. If that's how you feel about prepping a butternut squash, try this method for softening the squash before you peel and cube it. Prick the squash all over with a fork and place it in a microwave for about 4-5 minutes. Allow the squash to cool, then peel, halve it, scrape out the seeds, and cube it.
- Make a big batch and freeze it for later! This soup freezes really well and will keep for months in the freezer. Allow the soup to cool before placing it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bags. When you're ready to eat it, place the frozen soup in a pot and allow it to thaw on low heat. If you substituted some type of dairy in place of the coconut milk you may notice some separation occurring as you reheat the soup. If this is the case just put the soup back in the blender for a minute or two and it should come back together.
💭 Frequently asked questions
Yes, you do need to peel the squash. Butternut squash have tough skins that aren't very edible (unlike other winter squashes). However, if you'd like, you could take this recipe one step further by turning it into a roasted butternut squash soup recipe in which case leave the skin on, slice the squash in half, brush olive oil on the cut side of the squash, place each half cut-side-down on a baking sheet, and roast in an oven set to 375°F for 50 minutes. The flesh will easily scoop out of the skin after roasting.
Add extra broth, a little at a time, until the soup reaches your desired consistency.
An immersion blender also works! Sometimes it's more difficult to get a perfectly smooth soup with an immersion blender but you can get it pretty close and it will still taste awesome!
I'm thinking this soup might just be the perfect first-course for your holiday smorgasbord.
But first things first. Who's with me on that soup facial?!
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