Butternut Squash Apple Soup with Sage Parmesan Croutons
When I look back on the month that Ben and I spent in Paris, what fills my heart with the most longing isn’t the array of chocolate shops, the way the Eiffel tower sparkles at night, or even the proliferation of excellent bakeries—it’s lunch.
Yes, I miss the croissants and the macarons and stopping into fine cheese shops just because we could, but what fills me with the greatest nostalgia is the long, leisurely café lunch. Every afternoon, Ben and I would pick a different Paris neighborhood, wander into whichever cozy café caught our eye, then settle in for a two-hour meal with glasses of wine and our books. We’d chat, people watch, and marvel at just how fabulous doing absolutely nothing can be.
What surprised me the most about lunch in Paris wasn’t the unabashedly unhurried pace (though as an over-productive American who spent years eating lunch at her desk, the sensation never did wear off completely); it was the beautiful simplicity of the food. Most neighborhood Parisian cafes don’t serve lunches comprised of fussy dishes with six sauces and painstaking preparation. Rather, you’ll find simply grilled meats, composed salads, and tidy, open-faced sandwiches called tartines. Today’s recipe for Butternut Squash Apple Soup with Parmesan Croutons would be right at home on a French cafe menu too.
Do not make the mistake of confusing “simple” with “boring.” Although French café lunches are not fussy, their flavor is profound, because they use the best-quality seasonal ingredients. I feel the same way about this Butternut Squash Apple Soup. A read of the ingredient list—tart apples, creamy butternut squash, yellow onions, and freshly grated nutmeg—do not do justice to the delicate balance of sweet and savory autumn flavors and the comforting, rich texture that this butternut squash soup recipe offers.
If you were to stop by my house for an impromptu lunch any afternoon this fall or winter, Butternut Squash Apple Soup would be on the menu, one because it is absolutely scrumptious, and two because from September through February, I always have a quart or two of it tucked away in my freezer. Because butternut squash is plentiful, inexpensive, and delicious, I buy it in big quantities and turn it into a fresh pot of soup at least two or three times a month.
Though out the years, I’ve experimented with dozens of different recipes for butternut squash soup, and today’s version with apples and nutmeg is my favorite so far. It’s healthy, cozy, lightly sweet, and marvelous reheated for an easy lunch or dinner.
Although a bowl of Butternut Squash Apple Soup is fantastic on its own, I enjoy dressing it up with a dollop of Greek yogurt, crumble of goat cheese, or as I did the last time I made it, homemade sage Parmesan croutons. I cubed a crusty, chewy sourdough I picked up at a local bakery, tossed it with a bit of olive oil, salt, and sage, and 10 minutes later had golden, crunchy croutons to stir into my creamy Butternut Squash Apple Soup.
While the croutons were still warm, I sprinkled them with freshly grated Parmesan. I love the nuttiness of the cheese with the round warmth of the nutmeg, but if you’d like to keep the butternut squash soup vegan, you can simply omit it.
This Butternut Squash Apple Soup is a little piece of the simple, beautiful, and seasonal food I dream about when I think of French cafes, right here for us to enjoy. Pour yourself a glass of wine, and let’s pretend we are in Paris. Bon appétit!
A note for soup lovers:
- My immersion blender was one of the best tools I ever bought myself and makes pureeing soups like this one astronomically easier (and safer) than transferring the piping hot soup mixture to a blender or food processor in batches.
- If you prefer a food processor, or are in the market for a new one, I have used and loved this one for almost nine years. It’s easy to clean and works as well as the day I bought it.
Butternut Squash Apple Soup
A simple, healthy recipe for Butternut Squash Apple Soup with Parmesan Croutons. Rich, comforting and filled with warm flavors. Easy to freeze and reheat!
Yield: Serves 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
For the Soup:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups total)
- 2 large butternut squash (about 5 pounds total), peeled and diced into chunks
- 4 medium or 3 large apples (I like using a mix of sweet apples such as McIntosh or Golden Delicious and tart such as Granny Smith or Cortland), peeled, cored and roughly diced
- 3-4 cups low sodium chicken stock, divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Sage Parmesan Croutons:
- 6 cups 1-inch cut sourdough or whole grain bread cubes (use a hearty, crusty loaf—you’ll need about 6 thick slices total)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large, deep stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over low. Add the onions and cook until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the onions cook, cut and peel the squash and apples. Add them to the pot, then add 2 cups of the stock. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to low, then cover, and cook until the squash and apples are very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes depending upon how larger you cut your squash and apple pieces (smaller pieces will cook more quickly).
- Meanwhile, prepare the croutons. Place the bread cubes on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sage and salt, then toss to coat. Spread the cubes in a single layer, then bake until lightly crisp and brown, 10 to 12 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, toss to coat, then set aside until ready to serve.
- Once the apples and squash in the soup pot are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer it to a food processor fitted with a steel blade to puree in batches. Return soup to the pot once complete. Add 1 cup of the remaining chicken stock, then stir, adding a bit more stock as needed to reach your desired consistency (the soup will thicken somewhat when stored). Leave the texture fairly thick and rich. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne. Taste and add a bit more salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot, topped with sage croutons.
*It’s an incredible flavor upgrade to grate your own nutmeg from whole nutmeg, vs. buying preground. I use this zester to do it. Other uses: grate fresh nutmeg into your oatmeal, vanilla ice cream, and coffee too!
Leftover butternut squash apple soup can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.
In the spirit of creating dishes that use best ingredients available right here, right now, I’m sharing this Butternut Squash Apple Soup recipe as a part of this month’s Eat Seasonal blogger collaboration. Below you’ll find a list of what’s in season for November, plus a list of mouthwatering recipes that highlight and celebrate seasonal ingredients. I hope they inspire you to make some wonderful seasonal dishes of your own!
- Whole Wheat Pancakes with Balsamic Caramel Apples by Climbing Grier Mountain
- Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup by Letty’s Kitchen
- Easy Cranberry, Apple & Pomegranate Sauce by Cookin’ Canuck
- Beet, Goat Cheese and Hazelnut Galette by Vintage Mixer
- Endive Salad Bites with Pears, Blue Cheese, & Pecans by Flavor the Moments
- Pumpkin Roll by Foodie Crush
- Butternut Squash Burrito Bowls by Mountain Mama
- Slow Cooker Creamy Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili by Bless this Mess
- Butternut Squash and Rosemary Biscuits by Completely Delicious
- Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes with Sage Browned Butter by Floating Kitchen
- Honey Roasted Beets and Kale by Food for My Family
- Homemade Cinnamon Apple Pop-Tarts by From Gate to Plate