Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup

So, my family has this joke about Butternut Squash. A few years ago, my Mom had a local cooking show on TV in San Luis Obispo. During Christmas that year, my sister and I were watching TV while waiting for Mom to come home. All of the sudden, flipping through the channels, we see our Mom. Talking about butternut squash. With a large mallet in hand. Standing next to her "sous chef" and best friend, Linda. Now, this doesn't seem that funny, but cue the video to 1:35.

Chef Debbie just cannot put her hands down and makes this ridiculous hand gesture every time she says "butternut squash." My Sister and I laughed so hard for 20 minutes; tears were streaming down our faces. When my Mom came home shortly after, all we could say to her was "butternut squash," accompanied by the now infamous hand gesture. Even now, years later, whenever she says "butternut squash" my sister and I, in unison, make the gesture and crack up.

Well, butternut squash is certainly the inspiration for this soup. As are sweet potatoes...which I think I could eat every day. This soup is creamy, rich in winter flavors, and has a kick to it from the cayenne pepper. It is gluten-free and can be made vegetarian, too, by simply using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. The best part about this soup though, is that it's both healthy and filling. I stray away from using creams in my soups because I think the right amount of spice combined with ripe vegetables can produce enough bold flavor.

So turn on your chopping and peeling playlist, because really, that's all this takes. Prep this soup, and stick it in a saucepan or crock pot. Then, all you have to do is blend and serve!

It's still funny, Mom.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup
*Gluten free and can be made vegetarian; freezes very well.

3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
3 to 4 medium-sized butternut squashes or 2-3 packs of pre-cut squash (if using whole squash, use the small ones because they are easier to cut; if using pre-cut, pick up enough packs to equate to 24-36 ounces- over 2 pounds)
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or Earth Balance (vegan butter)
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
3 bay leaves (optional)
Olive oil, about 3 tablespoons

1) Cut, roast, and peel the squash and sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a cookie sheet or baking dish with foil. Cut the butternut squashes in half, scoop the seeds out, and place on sheet. Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of olive oil; sprinkle with ground pepper and a few pinches of salt. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, poke holes in them using a fork, and place on a cookie sheet. Place the squash and sweet potatoes in the oven for 45 minutes or until all become slightly soft.

2) Remove from oven, let cool, peel, and chop. This is the most labor intensive part of the process. Once the squashes are cool, peel the skins off and slice into 1 inch cubes. Once the sweet potatoes are cool, simply cut each in half and scoop out the flesh, leaving the skins behind. I personally love the skins, gotta get your fiber yo.

3) Sautee the onion. In a skillet, melt the butter and add the entire chopped onion in. Cook over medium-high heat, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion becomes soft and nearly caramelized. Turn the heat to low, and add in the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, a few pinches of salt, and some ground pepper. Remove from heat and add to your crock pot or sauce pan, depending on how you are making the soup.

4) Add the rest of the ingredients. Add all the broth and chopped potatoes and squash to the crock pot or saucepan and place the bay leaves in (if you have them; absolutely optional). Stir everything together.

5) Cook.  If using a crock pot, cook on high for 1 hour; then, turn down to low and cook for 4 hours. If you are home while this is cooking, stirring every hour or so won't hurt it. If you are making this over the stove, you'll want to bring all the ingredients to a boil and then reduce and simmer for an hour or so, stirring occasionally. You'll want everything to turn soft and mushy, as pictured below.

6) Blend everything. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for a few seconds. It didn't take long for my soup to become creamy, however, if you prefer it chunkier, texture-wise, adjust the blending time. I love thick soups, but if you prefer a more thinned out version, add more broth when blending at the end. Make sure to taste your soup! It will likely need additional salt and pepper, maybe even more cayenne, depending on your taste buds.

7) Serve and garnish (optional).  I garnished my soup with some farmers market spinach I sauteed in a teaspoon of butter; it was delicious and added some texture (and greens!) to my soup. I'd highly recommend garnishing with some croutons or a drizzle of coconut milk.


  1. This sounds really good! I like getting my veggies in liquid form :)

    1. Yes, me too. As long as the texture is right!

  2. This look delicious! I will totally make this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I can't wait to try it laura! Even Jon might eat it!

    1. Ha ha. Don't tell him there is squash in it!

  4. I can't get enough of butternut squash in the fall/winter. This soup sounds delicious!

    1. Me neither. In fact, I would eat it all year round if I could.

  5. Your soup looks so good! I've never had squash soup - I'll have to try it!

    1. Let me know how you like it! It's a good basic squash soup. If you like squash and sweet potatoes, you'll love it.

  6. This is the best soup I have ever made! I bought some butternut squash and sweet potatoes at our local Farmer's Market this past weekend and "googled" recipes to use it. I found your site, and I am so thankful.. Delicious!!! I cannot wait to try other recipes.

    Lee Ann