How To Make the Best Butternut Squash Soup

updated Oct 24, 2020
Butternut Squash Soup

We upgraded the classic soup with a few key ingredients (like apples and pumpkin puree) that makes it even better than Panera's.

Serves6 to 8

Makes2 quarts

Prep25 minutes

Cook40 minutes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Here’s what gets me excited about butternut squash soup: My favorite seasonal ingredients join forces to create a sunny bowl of cozy, comforting soup that warms me through and through. Tucking into homemade, gently spiced butternut squash soup is one of the few fringe benefits of the winter season.

This particular one-pot soup is inspired by my favorite soup at Panera Bread (you know the one). Their Autumn Squash Soup has a delightfully creamy texture with a slightly sweet yet balanced flavor, and it’s pretty much all I think about during the cold winter months. Here’s how to make an even better version at home, ready in less than an hour.

Better-than-Panera Butternut Squash Soup

Panera’s Autumn Squash Soup is a benchmark for the best butternut squash soup not only because people go nuts for it, but also because it really does have the perfect texture and flavor.

Here’s where a little ingredient sleuthing helped us re-create this favorite at home. According to their website, Panera uses cream cheese and apple juice concentrate in their uber-popular soup. We took that info and ran with it, adding whole apples and just a nub of cream cheese to our basic butternut soup, and boy did it deliver. But we didn’t stop there. A few more steps make this the absolute best butternut squash soup.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

3 Key Steps for the Best Butternut Squash Soup

  • Boil, don’t roast, the squash. Although it might seem easier to toss unpeeled halves of squash into the oven to roast, this will actually double your cooking time. Instead, you’ll want to boil peeled cubes. And in a real time crunch, you can (and should) use frozen butternut squash.
  • Bloom the spices. While you’re sautéing the onion, apple, and squash in a little oil, add the spices too. It might feel counterintuitive to add the spices so early, but the warm oil intensifies their flavors, making for a bolder, better-tasting soup.
  • Add a little pumpkin purée. Adding pumpkin purée is another idea lifted from Panera’s ingredient list. It adds another dimension to the squash flavor, and makes for a more velvety texture.

Serving Butternut Squash Soup

When the squash is tender, you’ll add the pumpkin, cream cheese, and maple syrup to the pot before puréeing. Use an immersion blender to get the soup as smooth as possible, then top each bowl with a swirl of heavy cream, half-and-half, or even yogurt and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon just before serving.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Butternut Squash Soup

We upgraded the classic soup with a few key ingredients (like apples and pumpkin puree) that makes it even better than Panera's.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

Makes 2 quarts

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1

    small onion, diced (about 1 cup)

  • 1

    small butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or 1 pound cut squash)

  • 1

    large honeycrisp apple, peeled and chopped

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 quart

    (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1 cup

    pumpkin purée

  • 2 tablespoons

    maple syrup

  • 2 ounces

    cream cheese

  • Heavy cream or half-and-half, for serving


  • 6-quart Dutch oven

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Chef’s knife and cutting board

  • Immersion blender

  • Can opener

  • Wooden spoon

  • Vegetable peeler


  1. Sweat the onion, butternut squash, and apple. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, squash, and apple, and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the squash and apples begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

  2. Bloom the spices. Add the curry powder, ginger, and cinnamon and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook, stirring regularly, until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes.

  3. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the broth and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen up the browned bits. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.

  4. Cook the squash until tender. Cover and simmer until the squash is very tender and the soup is golden-brown and fragrant, about 20 minutes.

  5. Remove the pan from the heat, add the pumpkin, and blend. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the pumpkin, maple syrup, cream cheese, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt until the cream cheese is melted. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. (Alterntiavely, blend the soup in batches in a stand blender.)

  6. Serve the soup. Serve the soup with a splash of heavy cream or half-and-half and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.