If you ask me, including the word “vegan” in the name of this soup almost does it a disservice. Yes, it is vegan, but I worry that the label will scare away my omnivore friends who might think the recipe isn’t for them.
The truth is, it’s a soup for everyone. A very democratic soup. With its velvety texture, vibrant color, and delicately sweet squash flavor, it’s just plain delicious. The vegan of it all is a bonus.
What Makes Vegan Butternut Squash Soup So Creamy?
The creaminess comes from coconut milk, which lends pleasing richness to every bowl. After sautéing onions, carrot, garlic, and herbs, a can of coconut milk is added and simmered long enough to infuse the aromatics into the mix.
I prefer light coconut milk because it makes the soup creamy without giving it an overpowering coconut flavor. I also appreciate that light coconut milk has a healthier fat profile than full-fat.
Roast the Squash First
Unlike many butternut soup recipes, this one starts by roasting the squash in the oven rather than cooking it on the stovetop. Roasting does double duty in the soup: first, there’s no need to peel and cube raw squash (which is hard work), and second, it gives the soup an added depth of flavor and sweetness.
Once roasted, it’s a breeze to scoop out the seeds and tender flesh.
Variations on This Soup
Butternut squash soup can go in so many flavor directions. This one is no different. The basic recipe is entirely tasty all on its own, but if you want to play around with ingredients in your pantry, here are a few variations to try:
- Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of any one of the following spice mixes when you add the coconut milk: pumpkin pie spice, ras el hanout, curry powder, or garam masala.
- Stir 1 tablespoon of Thai red curry paste into the pot when you add the coconut milk.
- Use fresh sage or rosemary in place of thyme.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes when you sauté the onions for a kick of heat.
- Replace the water with homemade vegetable broth if you have it on hand. Be sure to adjust the salt in the recipe if your broth is already seasoned.
How to Serve Butternut Squash Soup
This is a satisfying soup, so it qualifies as a meal all on its own—perhaps with a hunk of crusty bread or a simple salad on the side. Adding a half (or whole) sandwich, such as this nourishing chickpea number or even a classic grilled cheese (if you’re not vegan) is also a good bet.
I always like to dress up my soup once I ladle it into bowls. Here are a few favorite additions:
- Homemade croutons
- Roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- A swirl of coconut milk or plain nondairy yogurt
- A drizzle of olive oil or melted vegan butter
- Chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, chives, or sage
- A dash or two of cayenne pepper
More Cozy Vegan Soups
Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
1 (3 to 3 1/2-pound) butternut squash
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
6 bushy sprigs fresh thyme, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 leaf bay leaves
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
1 cup water, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste
Optional garnishes: homemade croutons, fresh thyme, coconut milk, cayenne pepper and/or black pepper
Prep and roast the squash:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment.
Cut off the squash stem. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Season the interior of the squash with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Press 1 sprig of thyme on top of the seeds in the cavity of each squash half.
Lay the squash cut-side-down on the sheet pan. Roast until the skin begins to wrinkle and turn brown and you can easily slide a paring knife into the squash in a few places, about 1 hour.
Let the squash sit until cool enough to handle.
While the squash roasts, make the soup base:
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, 4 sprigs of thyme, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until the onion is very tender and translucent and the carrot is nearly tender, 7 to 10 minutes. If the onion begins to brown, drop the heat a bit. You don’t want the vegetables to brown.
Add the coconut milk and water. Adjust the heat so the liquid simmers. Simmer for about 10 minutes to infuse the flavors into the broth.
Remove from the heat and use tongs to pluck out and discard the thyme and bay leaves (don’t worry about removing any tiny thyme leaves that drifted into the broth).
Scoop out the squash:
Use a soup spoon to scoop the seeds and stringy bits from the cavity of the squash halves and discard. Remove the peel and discard (you may need the assistance of a sharp knife to help cut away the peel).
Blend and serve:
Add the lemon juice, maple syrup, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste) to the pot. If using a standard blender, transfer the roasted squash and coconut broth to the blender. If using an immersion blender, put the squash into the pot with the broth.
Blend until very creamy and smooth with no visible bits of vegetables. If the soup is too thick, add more water as needed and blend again. Taste, adding more salt and/or pepper as desired.
When blending hot soup in a blender, keep the lid cracked so that some steam can escape. Otherwise, you could end up with hot soup all over your kitchen.
Ladle the soup into bowls, add any favorite garnishes, and serve warm.
Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 7g||9%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||22%|
|Total Carbohydrate 38g||14%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||35%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 43mg||217%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|