A bit of a produce shop-a-holic, I’ve been known to return home from the farmers’ market with enough acorn squash to feed a small village, only to double up at the grocery store, because it’s always on sale. This hearty, warm Acorn Squash Soup, abundant with fall flavors, is my latest, greatest way to work through my supply.
As we enter the fall and winter months, it’s easy to feel down about the dwindling of fresh seasonal produce. But don’t doubt that a trip to a winter market (or the seasonal section of the grocery store) will lead to healthy, super satisfying meals.
This easy and delightful acorn squash soup indeed shows that winter produce can surely shine!
Its thick and creamy texture, the deep notes of caramelization from the roasted squash, savory herbs, and a touch of honey work together to taste like the epitome of holiday comfort
Acorn Squash: A Versatile Veggie
Most often people tend to think of acorn squash as a side, like this popular Baked Acorn Squash Slices with Brown Sugar and Pecans. But acorn squash will just as easily steal the show as a hearty main (here’s looking at you, Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash!).
That’s what makes acorn squash so versatile! It pairs well with turkey, ham, and other holiday main-dish staples. Yet it will stand alone no problem for a simple, healthy weeknight dinner.
Especially this time of year when I find myself eating more indulgently around the holidays, it’s soothing to have a weeknight dinner that doesn’t feel like a tasteless sacrifice. (This is an ideal vegetarian option too!)
The Difference Between Butternut Squash and Acorn Squash
Both acorn squash and butternut squash are healthy, versatile veggies. Both are worthy additions to your fall and winter cooking repertoire.
- While both varieties are naturally sweet, butternut squash tends to be slightly sweeter and nuttier than acorn squash.
- Both acorn squash and butternut squash are excellent for soups and can be stuffed, though with acorn squash’s larger center, you have more room for filling, as with this Instant Pot Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice Cranberries and Chickpeas.
- Since butternut squash is easy to peel and cube (unlike acorn squash), you can make soup without roasting it first (like this pleasing Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup and Butternut Squash Apple Soup with Sage Parmesan Croutons).
- Acorn squash is more fibrous than butternut squash and harder to peel. You’ll want to cook it with the peel on, then scoop out the flesh prior to making soup, as we are doing in today’s recipe.
- With the exception of roasted vegetable soups (where the squash is cooked in the oven and pureed), I recommend you do not substitute butternut squash for acorn squash because of the difference in textures and preparation.
How to Make This Recipe
This recipe leans toward the classic, cozy fall savory flavors (hints of nutmeg, sage, and thyme gleam throughout) while still packing impressive nutrition.
The rich and nutty flavor of caramelized roasted squash gives instant backbone to the soup. Plus, you do not have to peel acorn squash for soup. It’s a multitasker’s dream vegetable!
You can roast it hands-free, letting the quash create its own fantastic flavor, while you attend to other tasks in the house.
- Acorn Squash. A favorite winter squash that deserves to star. Once roasted, it’s lightly sweet and buttery, making it an ideal choice for this creamy soup. Acorn squash has high levels of potassium, calcium, and vitamins A and C.
- Carrots + Shallot. These cook together in the pot first, building a rich, complex flavor profile. Plus, the carrot sneaks in some extra veg.
- Honey. A scrumptious touch of natural sweetness. The honey pairs nicely with the flavor of the squash too (don’t worry, the soup isn’t overly sweet!).
- Fresh Thyme + Bay Leaf.Both herbs bring their own subtle background flavors while also pairing wonderfully together. I recommend fresh thyme.
- Rubbed Sage. Sage is a creamy, hearty recipe’s best friend. It’s earthy and delicious.
- Nutmeg. Adds a hint of nuttiness and warmth.
- Parmesan. My favorite addition to cozy soups like this one. It’s makes the soup taste fully satisfying.
- Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Roast on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 to 50 minutes at 400 degrees F.
- Scoop out the flesh.
- Cook the carrots and shallots.
- Add the squash, herbs, garlic, and stock and let simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Puree, then stir in the sage, nutmeg, and Parmesan. Add desired toppings and ENJOY!
Ways to Top Acorn Squash
Acorn squash soup already tastes rich with so many sweet pureed vegetables.
Still, when does that stop me from going for the extra pizzazz?! Here are a few topping options to add to feel truly gourmet:
- Bacon. Acorn squash soup with bacon. Need I say anything more?
- Fried Sage. A special edition that makes it worthy of a holiday occasion (see the suggestion in the recipe below). The crispy texture it attains will wow you.
- Parmesan. This is simple yet perfect, and is exactly how we loved our servings.
- Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. You can buy these at any grocery store or toast your own.
More Flavors for Acorn Squash Soup
Now if you make any squash soup a frequent go-to in your repertoire, feel free to add small twists to keep it new and exciting.
- Looking for a spicy acorn squash soup? Add a pinch of cayenne.
- Does a curry acorn squash soup sound delish? Definitely try this fall favorite Pumpkin Curry Soup, which is guaranteed to satisfy.
- While we love our vegetable soups smooth and creamy, if you prefer a chunky acorn squash soup, stop blending as soon as you reach your desired texture.
Acorn squash soup and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or medium-bodied Chardonnay would be wonderful together. For a red wine option, try an American Zinfandel.
- To Store. Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- To Freeze. Freeze soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. My favorite tool for making soups on the stovetop.
- Ladle. Serve your soups with ease.
- Immersion Blender. No need to transfer your soups to a blender with this helpful appliance.
Acorn Squash Soup
FOR THE SOUP:
- 3 whole acorn squash
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt plus additional to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 2 medium carrots peeled and thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon ground black or white pepper
- 6 garlic cloves smashed and peeled
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken stock plus additional as needed, divided
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme tied into a bundle
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon rubbed sage
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg freshly grated if possible
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan plus additional for serving (see notes to make vegan)
CRISPY SAGE TOPPING:
- Canola oil
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- Kosher salt or flaky sea salt
- Bake the squash: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For easy clean up, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- With a sharp, sturdy chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash in half from stem to base. Scoop out and discard the stringy core and seeds. Arrange the halves cut-sides up on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each half with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the edges begin to wrinkle and the flesh is fork-tender.
- Set aside to cool, then scoop out and reserve the flesh.
- In a large Dutch oven or similar sturdy soup pot, heat the butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium. Once the butter has melted, add the carrots, shallot, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cook until the shallot is beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
- Pour ½ cup of the stock into the pan and stir to remove any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan (this is flavor!). Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the reserved squash, garlic, and honey. Cook for 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant, then stir in the remaining stock.
- Add the thyme bundle and bayleaf. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a simmer. Let simmer gently for 15 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed and stirring periodically.
- Remove the thyme and bay leaf. With an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth (or you can transfer to a regular blender in batches and puree it that way; be careful as hot soup will splatter; return the soup to the pot). Stir in the sage, nutmeg, and Parmesan. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve hot with a sprinkle of additional Parmesan and crisped sage leaves (if using).
- For the Crispy Sage (optional but great for a special occasion): In a small skillet, heat ⅛ inch of canola oil over medium high. When the oil is very hot, add the sage and cook for 30 to 45 seconds, turning the leaves to crisp them on both sides (be careful not to burn yourself). When the bubbling subsides, the leaves should be crisp. Carefully drain the sage onto a paper towel-lined plate. Immediately sprinkle with salt.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or reheat gently in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- TO MAKE VEGAN: Swap the honey for pure maple syrup, the butter for olive oil, and the Parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast; add 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.
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