This Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup is the perfect lazy entertaining meal. It’s easy to adapt for vegan, vegetarians and gluten free guests!
I first tasted this butternut squash soup about half my lifetime ago at my mom’s house for dinner. We were over around the holidays, and mom was trying a new recipe out on us. It was so smooth and creamy! It was sweet and savory and satisfyingly comforting, set against the chilly Oregon fall evening.
A few weeks later, we were hosting the appetizer portion of a holiday progressive dinner. I decided to re-make that amazing butternut squash soup mom had made. But I decided it needed a little more excitement.
I ended up making it with a bit of curry spices and serving it garnished with a dollop of sour cream, cilantro, and green onions. On the side, I added the option for guests to add some cooked ground sausage. It was a complete hit! And my family has been making it this way ever since.
Butternut squash soup is easy, and only requires a handful of ingredients you may already have in the cupboard. Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables to pick up in the cooler months so if you are like me you may even have butternut squash on hand. They are considered a winter squash and have nice thick skin and firm enough flesh that they can keep for several months in a cool dry place.
If you are interested in learning a little bit about Butternut Squash itself, I found this article pretty helpful.
The simplicity of this soup lends itself to creativity and self-authorship. The creamy base is comfort food in itself, and a versatile blank slate. There are a number of fruits and vegetables that will blend up and add all kinds of complexity to complement our humble hero, butternut squash. I even found a recipe that calls for the addition of apples!
You can add cream, coconut milk, butter, or even bacon grease to bring the savory fat content to the dish. And then there are all of the toppings you could imagine! We like to include green onions, caramelized onions, bacon or sausage, cilantro, lime, and sour cream or Mexican crema. Garnish with pepitas, roasted pumpkin seeds, toasted coconut, or a dash of nutmeg. You can really do whatever makes your mouth the happiest!
Here are just a few other topping ideas to let people mix and match with: caramelized onions, caramelized jalapeños, quick pickles, chopped red peppers, cotija cheese, crispy tofu, roasted coconut flakes, croutons, or a dash of your favorite roasted spices.
You can go in different directions with your spices too. We use coconut milk, and curry spices in the recipe below.
Vegetarian or Vegan Butternut Squash Soup?
Our butternut squash soup is the perfect recipe for times when you need to serve a variety of restricted diets! It’s naturally gluten-free, and by substituting the chicken broth for vegetable broth it is completely vegan and vegetarian.
A lot of recipes use heavy cream to add extra creamy richness to the blended base soup. Our recipe calls for coconut milk, which is already a great vegetarian alternative!
And of course, you get to decide what to top your soup with. Ground sausage and bacon probably shouldn’t grace the top of a vegetarian’s serving.
How To Prepare Butternut Squash?
Butternut squash is easy enough to prepare. It really depends on how you plan to use and ultimately serve it.
The recipe below calls for you to cube the squash. Here are the steps.
- Wash the outside surface of the butternut squash.
- Next, you want to cut the ends off without wasting too much of the inner flesh.
- Now cut it in half so there are a top and a bottom, right above the bulb.
- You are ready to use your trusty peeler. Peel the outer skin off both pieces.
- The bulb has a seed pocket inside. Cut this in half and scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon.
- Finally, you are ready to cube everything up! I recommend shooting for half-inch cubes. They make nice chunks if you want them and fit easily into a blender too.
If you do not want to deal with cubing your squash, you can roast the whole butternut squash in two halves.
- Wash the outside skin of the butternut squash.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise so that you have two boats.
- Scrape the seeds out with a metal spoon.
- Add oil to a cookie sheet or pyrex dish and place the halves cut side down.
- Set your oven to 400 degrees and roast for about 45 minutes or until you can scrape the flesh out of the skin easily. You can poke it with a fork to check your progress.
- Let the halves cool to a temperature you can work with and scrape out the flesh from each boat. This method is great for if you want to puree everything or mash it.
Should I roast my butternut squash first?
Depending on which method you choose to prepare your squash in, you may have no choice but to roast it. You can roast the cubed squash too though and arguably, you will be able to caramelize more of the squashes’ surface area, which is by far the best way to make this recipe in my opinion.
The only reason why you would maybe choose not to roast your squash is for the sake of time, or because you just didn’t want to hassle with the extra step.
When you roast the squash, caramelization occurs. Caramelization is the browning of the natural sugars found in the squash. When this complex chemical reaction takes place, all kinds of new flavor compounds are released, and the result is an added sweetness and nutty character. It’s well worth the effort.
All the same, I sometimes choose not to roast my squash too. It’s easy to just throw the cubed squash right into the soup broth and boil them for 15 to 20 minutes until they reach the tenderness desired. If you are wanting to maintain some of the squash in a cubed size bite, you may want to preserve some of the texture. Check your progress by poking them with a fork.
Can I use an Instant Pot to make Butternut Squash Soup?
Yes! You can absolutely use an Instant Pot to make Butternut Squash Soup. You could also use a stovetop pot, a crockpot, or a slow cooker. The steps aren’t all that different and really depend on what you are comfortable with. Here is why.
If you are roasting your squash first, it is already cooked through. If you are not roasting, it doesn’t take that much time to cook butternut squash in boiling liquid of some kind. About 15 to 20 minutes will do it.
That being said, there isn’t much need to use the pressure cooker features on your Instant Pot. It may take just three minutes under pressure to finish cooking the cubed squash, but it takes time for the water to boil and build up pressure. And it takes time to blow it down again at the end of the process.
I still like to use my Instant Pot to make just about any soup though. The saute feature allows me to use it just like I would a stovetop pot. It lets me free up space on the stove itself, and in my kitchen, I can plug the Instant Pot in on the same counter I use my cutting board on. With an open spot, I can add ingredients as soon as I finish prepping them too.
You can also use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker if you want to be able to prep, and then walk away for a bit.
What goes well with butternut squash soup?
Butternut squash soup is good whenever you decide to make it. As long as you have usable butternut squash. Usually, butternut squash starts being available in September or October. But they require long enough growing seasons, that they can be hard to come by locally in some parts of the world.
Since Butternut Squash is a winter squash, this soup is a common staple of Fall and Winter meals, where it’s rich, creamy warmth is the perfect balance to the cold temperatures outside. It also makes an excellent holiday dish!
You can enjoy this butternut squash soup by itself, but what other dishes do crisp, cool, fall, and winter days inspire you to make? Here’s a few ideas:
Try homemade bread or an artisan loaf from your local bakery.
Add a fresh, crisp, winter-inspired salads like this Pomegranate Balsamic Salad!
Oh and don’t forget to pair it with your favorite white wine, or festive beer. Maybe even make a prost and add a little to your Butternut Squash Soup!
- 2 largish butternut squash, peeled and cubed in ½ inch cubes (about 5 to 6 cups)
- 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- 2 (13.5 oz) cans full fat coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon oregano or sage
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional and adjustable )
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste and salt content of soup stock)
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 large shallots, chopped (or use 1 large onion)
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
- Our favorite toppings:
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped chives
- Chopped radishes
- Cooked ground sausage (1-2 lbs to serve 8)
- Caramelized shallots
- Sour cream or Mexican Crema
- Coconut milk
How to Cube Butternut Squash:
1. Wash the outside surface of the butternut squash.
2. Next, you want to cut the ends off without wasting too much of the inner flesh.
3. Now cut it in half so there are a top and a bottom, right above the bulb.
4. Peel the outer skin off both butternut squash.
5. The bulb has a seed pocket inside. Cut this in half and scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon.
6. Finally, you are ready to cube everything up! I recommend shooting for half-inch cubes. They make nice chunks if you want them and fit easily into a blender too.
Making the Soup:
1. Quick & Easy: place the cubed Butternut Squash into the insert of a 6-quart Instant Pot with the six cups of stock. Set the Instant Pot to the “Saute” adjusted to the “More” setting. Bring to boil, and boil for 15 to 20 minutes, or when you can easily stick a fork through one. Turn the “saute” setting to the “less” mode now.
2. More Flavorful: roast your butternut squash before adding them to the Instant Pot. Set oven at 400 degrees. Add coconut oil to a cookie sheet, and add the cubed butternut squash and a dash of salt. Roast, turning cubes over once, for 30 to 40 minutes. Don’t over caramelize, but make sure the cubes get a good brown color on a couple of sides. Add the roasted cubes to a 6 qt Instant Pot insert along with six cups of stock and bring to a boil slowly using the “saute” setting on “less”.
3. Add the coconut milk, minced garlic, spices, and herbs.
4. Fine chop shallots and pan fry with coconut oil until nicely caramelized. Set some aside to use as a topping if desired.
5. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or use a slotted spoon to transfer all or some of the solid contents to a blender. Add a cup or two of liquid soup, and puree. If you have a small blender, you may need to do this in batches. You also may want a little extra texture, so consider leaving some of the squash in cubes, along with some of the onions. Return to Instant Pot.
6. Stir and serve with desired toppings. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288 Total Fat: 22g Saturated Fat: 16g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 15mg Sodium: 625mg Carbohydrates: 18g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 6g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 8g