Sometimes (a lot of the time, lately), you just want something easy, rich, and comforting. This delicious creamy butternut squash soup with cream cheese definitely fits the bill! I love to have it extra thick and rich, but you can definitely thin it out with extra stock if you prefer a more liquidy soup.
This is a fantastic recipe when you’re working with just the staples. Not counting basics (salt, pepper, and oil), it only requires five ingredients! The pictures you’ll see here are garnished with pine nuts, but those are optional. You can substitute other nuts, or other toppings of your choice. Read on for some suggestions!
Notes on This Recipe:
Butternut squash: feel free to substitute similar squashes if you like! Butternut is the one I have in the house most often, but acorn squash, kabocha, and anything similar work well too. (Confused by the reddish flecks on the raw squash in the pictures? Here in “quarantine kitchen,” I only have pink pepper!)
Garlic: this recipe calls for what sounds like a lot of garlic. But thanks to roasting and simmering, the final flavor ends up being pretty mild. If you really love garlic, feel free to add more! (But if you love garlic that much, you already double the quantity in recipes anyway, right?)
Salt: the salt level in this recipe is pretty low initially, with just a sprinkle of it on the squash before roasting. This is because different stocks have different sodium levels, and I don’t want you to accidentally over-salt! Taste your soup after blending it, and add more salt if it doesn’t quite pop.
Stock: as written here, this recipe is vegetarian. But if you only have a meat-based stock in your pantry, feel free to use it! This soup is equally good with chicken or beef stock.
Sour cream: if you’ve been around the site much, you may have realized that I’ll just about always take creme fraiche over sour cream. It works similarly, but tastes more subtle and understated. In this particular recipe, though, I recommend using sour cream if you have it! The powerful flavor is strong and rich enough to really hold its own in this soup. (If you’re like me, you’re more likely to have creme fraiche in your fridge than sour cream. Don’t worry. You can absolutely use creme fraiche instead if that’s what you have on hand!)
Turmeric: I like to slip turmeric into meals wherever I can. In this recipe, though, it serves a bonus purpose! In addition to rounding out the flavor of the soup, it helps give it a rich, vibrant color. Unfortunately, blending with cream cheese can give the soup a bit of a lackluster shade of pale brownish orange, so some turmeric really livens it up visually. With that said, don’t worry if you don’t have it! Your soup might not be as pretty, but it will still be a delightful, flavorful bowl of culinary comfort.
Finishing drizzle: I like to finish this soup off with a pretty little swirl of sour cream. To get the right consistency to be able to do this, heat some sour cream with a bit of milk to loosen it up. Mix well and drizzle on top. Optionally, you can just save yourself some trouble and finish the soup with a few dollops of cold sour cream instead!
Finishing this soup: the basic finishing ingredients I use here are pine nuts and a cream cheese and milk drizzle. If you don’t have pine nuts, feel free to substitute other nuts instead, or leave them off completely! And if you have a favorite soup finisher, go for it. Some delicious options include small pieces of preserved lemon, minced fresh herbs of your choice, Parmesan chips, or croutons. Feel free to use your imagination and play with it! This is a forgiving soup that meshes well with lots of flavors.
On the side: like any soup, this one is perfect with some rustic crusty bread. Yum! It’s also really good with my shredded Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar and lemon zest. The nuttiness of the Brussels sprouts stands in perfect rich contrast to the sweet creaminess of this soup.
Prepare and roast your squash and garlic. Don’t forget to peel your butternut squash before cubing it. Peel the garlic too, and add the whole cloves right in with the butternut squash! They’ll roast together. Toss the raw butternut squash and garlic cloves with olive oil to generously coat along with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, then roast until they’re tender. You’ll know they’re done when the squash cubes and garlic have developed a golden hue, have a few brownish edges/corners, and are completely tender.
Simmer the soup. Bring the broth to a simmer when you see that your squash is getting close to done. (Doing it this way, rather than adding the squash to cold broth, helps save some time.) Toss the roasted squash and garlic in and simmer for about 10 minutes. This helps blend the flavors, and you may even notice your squash starting to break down in the broth. (But don’t worry if it doesn’t!)
Blend the soup. This is as straightforward as it sounds. Once the soup has simmered a bit, blend it. I like to use an immersion blender when I have one, but sadly my “quarantine kitchen” doesn’t have as many supplies as my home kitchen. If you’re in a similar situation, you can definitely just use a blender or even a food processor! Just make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions about hot liquids and being safe. You’ll probably need to let the soup cool a bit first. Just reheat it before you serve it!
At this point, you’ll also taste and adjust your seasonings if necessary. To finish it, I mix a bit of milk with some cream cheese, heat it up to soften it, and stir until it’s smooth, then drizzle it on top before sprinkling the soup with some pine nuts. But as I discussed above, you can absolutely use other finishing options if you prefer.
FAQ: Why Roast the Squash and Garlic? Can’t I Just Throw It in the Broth? Isn’t Roasting a Waste of Time?
In short, roasting your squash develops more flavor. Have you ever noticed that roasted vegetables are more flavorful than their boiled counterparts? Put another way: would you rather eat a bite of richly caramelized onions or take a bite out of a whole boiled onion? Soup is basically a collection of the flavors you put into it, so adding complex, condensed, finished flavors is generally better than throwing in raw ingredients. And roasting squash develops its flavors in a way that boiling it just can’t.
This is all a generalization, of course! You can argue that boiling the flavor out of ingredients doesn’t matter because the boiled-out flavor just ends up in the soup water. And sure, that’s true to some extent. But the actual flavor of roasted butternut squash is better to begin with. If you’re not convinced, I challenge you to make two side-by-side pots: one as instructed with roasted squash and garlic, and one where you throw in raw cubes of squash and garlic. The second pot will have a bit more volume (because the squash loses moisture as it roasts), but the flavor will be plainer and less developed.
In general, when you’re cooking anything (not just soup!), try to make each component taste as good as it possibly can. Roasted butternut squash and garlic are dramatically better than boiled butternut squash and garlic, and this shines through in this creamy butternut squash soup with cream cheese.
Take Your Creamy Butternut Squash Soup With Cream Cheese to the Next Level:
Garlic chips: lately, I’ve been obsessed with finishing soups with garlic chips. They add some extra crunch and a gorgeous pop of flavor. Best of all, they only take a few minutes to make, and you can do it while your butternut squash is roasting! Check out this link to learn how to make baked garlic chips.
Saute onions and garlic: if you have the time and energy, while your butternut squash is roasting, saute some onions in the pot you’ll use for your soup. When they’re soft, translucent, and beginning to develop color, add in some minced garlic and cook for about 20 to 30 seconds longer. After this, pour in the stock, bring it to a simmer, and continue as instructed. The onions and garlic will add more layers of flavor to the soup!
Looking for something to go with this soup? Try my shredded Brussels sprouts!
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup With Cream Cheese
- 2 ½ cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 8 garlic cloves medium to large, peeled
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly cracked pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 cups broth
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ⅓ cup cream cheese (plus extra for garnish)
- milk (optional)
- toasted pine nuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prepare and roast your squash and garlic. Toss your peeled and cubed butternut squash and peeled garlic cloves with enough olive oil to generously coat them as well as freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast at 375 F (190 C) until tender and golden, stirring once about halfway through. This should take around 30 minutes.
- Simmer the soup. Bring the broth to a simmer, then add the roasted butternut squash and garlic cloves, along with the turmeric. Return to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes to help all the flavors blend. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese until it melts.
- Blend the soup. With an immersion blender or in a blender, process the soup until it’s smooth and homogenous. Taste and add salt, pepper, or turmeric if necessary. Serve garnished with cream cheese and toasted pine nuts (optional).