Make Ahead

Butternut Squash Soup

September 15, 2020
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
Author Notes

Here’s a pro tip for as soon as the weather starts to turn windy and brisk: Make a batch of this butternut squash soup—or, even better, make a double batch—let cool, then freeze in pint containers. It’ll hang out there happily for months, ready to be thawed in the fridge whenever a craving (or cold) strikes, and microwaved into cozy, comforting bliss.

For the butternut-squashiest butternut squash soup (which is to say, the best butternut squash soup), use the vegetable not one but two ways: Roast some, yielding deeply flavored, caramelized hunks (along with onions, because onions make everything better). And boil the rest of the squash in salty, garlicky water, creating a pseudo vegetable stock in a matter of minutes.

Tossing some walnuts into the blender enriches the soup with an instant nut milk—offering loads of richness and flavor, without the heaviness of cream. I like to use raw nuts for their milky, mild personality, but you can toast them beforehand if you’d like. And you can swap in another nut, like cashews, if that’s all you have around.

Grated Parmesan brings cheesiness, of course, but also saltiness and umami. If you’d like to make this vegan, no problem: Just add nutritional yeast or shiro miso (white miso) to taste, added at the same point you would have added the cheese.

Serve this butternut squash soup with crusty bread, a zingy salad, or both. Or, if you’re an overachiever, you can team up with a gooey grilled cheese for dunking. —Emma Laperruque

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Makes about 6 1/2 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds butternut squash (about 1 large or 2 small), peeled
  • 1 pound yellow onions (about 2 medium), peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces (or chopped walnuts)
  • 3/4 ounce Parmesan, finely grated (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Whole-milk yogurt, for swirling on top (optional)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Halve the squash and remove the seeds. Chop into 1- to 1 1/2–inch chunks. Add half of these to a sheet pan, along with the onion wedges. Drizzle with the olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands, breaking the onions into petals. Roast for about 35 minutes—using a spatula to shuffle everything halfway through—until the squash is tender and blistering in spots.
  2. While that’s working, add 6 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the garlic cloves to a stockpot and set over high heat to come to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the remaining squash and cook for about 10 minutes, until the squash is soft. At this point, add the walnuts and cook another 1 minute to soften. Turn off the heat.
  3. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the squash, garlic, and walnuts to a blender. Pour the squash broth from the pot into a heatproof measuring cup (you should have about 4 cups). Blend the squash mixture until a smooth-ish purée forms. Add 1 cup of squash broth and blend. Add the Parmesan and blend. Taste and add more cheese if you want. Pour the soup into the stockpot.
  4. When the squash and onion are done roasting, transfer those to the blender and add 1 1 1/2 cups of squash broth. Blend until smooth. Pour into the stockpot. Add another ½ cup of squash broth to the blender and blend (this captures all of the soup that was stuck to the sides). Pour this into the pot, too.
  5. Stir the vinegar into the soup. Thin out with more broth if you want, then taste and adjust with more vinegar, salt, and/or black pepper. At this point, you can stick in the fridge or freezer—or serve right away, drizzled with yogurt if you’d like.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.