Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Cashews is a warm, comforting soup, full with the flavors of fall. I have a really good memory. Colors, smells and sounds sometimes bring a rush of memories and feelings at the most unexpected times.
All of a sudden I will be lost in the memory, like a time machine transporting me, back to a younger, more carefree time. I remember the first time I tasted Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Cashews was Aspen, Christmas, 1991, at a restaurant called The Attic. It was the same restaurant we’d eat at every Christmas, but this night, as part of the prix fixe menu, I tasted Butternut Squash Soup. I could have stopped there, skipped the Prime Rib, the Yorkshire Pudding and the English Trifle. (This post was originally published on October 15th, 2012 and has been updated to contain nutritional information. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases.)
“Please sir, another bowl of soup!” I still remember the mouth feel and texture of that soup the crunch of the cashews and the hint of nutmeg. I asked the waiter, who asked the chef, for the recipe. The young chef, flattered, came out to our table with a yellow legal pad and apologized for the vague ingredients and lack of directions, “My recipe serves 200”, he said. “That’s OK,” I told him. “I’ll figure it out if you give me the ingredients.”
I recreated that soup, and now it’s on my Autumn/Winter soup list every year. It’s rich, it’s elegant. Perfect for Thanksgiving or as part of a dinner party.
Well, I think all soups are simple…and way tastier than anything in a can. The original version was thickened with a roux (flour and butter), but I have found that if you reduce the amount of liquid, the squash will thicken the soup fine on it’s own. This also keeps it gluten free and lower in carbs. The original recipe also used heavy cream, which gives it richness and body…but I add just enough cream to bring it to the right consistency.
Making this butternut squash soup recipe
The original recipe required peeling, roasting and cubing a whole butternut squash which adds about an hour to the cooking time. And up until recently, this was the only way to make it. In the last few years, more and more stores are carrying pre-cubed butternut squash. While it’s more expensive, it’s certainly is more convenient. I’ve included directions for both methods.
Using a whole butternut squash
I’ve included this step in case you cannot find pre-packaged butternut squash or if you happen to be lucky enough to grow your own!
Peel the squash and then use an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds. Using a sharp knife or peeler, remove the outside skin. Cube the squash into 1″ pieces. I also use an ice cream scoop to clean out pumpkins for carving.
Making butternut squash soup vegetarian or vegan
The original recipe using chicken broth. To make it vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth. To make it vegan, swap the butter for more olive oil, use vegetable broth. Skip thinning with cream and add more vegetable broth or your favorite dairy substitute.
If using a blender to puree the soup, be careful not to fill the blender more than half way full. Cover lid with a tea towel and hold the lid down while blending. Here’s another blended soup, Leek and Potato, which is also perfect for cooler weather.
Making the “swirl”
You’ll need a squeeze bottle like this one, or a small jug with a fine spout. You’ll want to make the lines fairly thin.
Make a spiral, starting in the center.
Use a sharp object, like a skewer or toothpick and drag it through the cream.
Go first one direction, then the other until the desired look is achieved.
I think it looks like a fall leaf!
Top with toasted cashews and garnish with chopped thyme.
I hope you enjoy this delicious autumn soup recipe!
Butternut Squash Soup With Toasted Cashews
- 1 butternut squash about 2 pounds or 6 cups cubed.
- 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian/vegan)
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup Heavy cream use to thin to desired consistency
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (to taste)
- 1/8 cup raw cashews chopped and toasted for garnish
Roasting and preparing the squash. Skip this step if you are using already prepared squash from the grocery store.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Halve squash and place cut side up in a baking pan with 1/2" of water. bake uncovered for about 45 minutes. Squash won't be fully cooked, but slightly tender. Cool.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel of outer skin and scrape inside to remove seeds and stringy fibers. Cut into cubes. Should yield about 6 cups.
Finishing the soup. Start here if you have cubed and prepared squash.
- In a Dutch oven or large pot heat butter and oil until hot and shimmering.
- Add shallots and stir, for a minute or two, then add garlic and stir.
- Next, add squash and broth and bring to a boil. Add thyme and bay leaf, reduced heat and cover.
- Simmer on low about 30 minutes until squash is tender. Remove bay leaf and thyme sticks, if there are any
- Puree soup using an immersion blender or upright blender, until smooth.
- Return soup to pot, add half and half or cream to thin to desired consistency. Finish with toasted, chopped cashews and a drizzle of cream.
- To toast the cashews, shake in a small frying pan over medium heat until light and golden.