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Apple Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Sage
Here’s a savory vegan recipe for you as we head into cooler fall weather – Apple Butternut Squash Soup! What’s so lovely about this easy vegan recipe is that it’s full of natural ingredients and unrefined sweeteners. This butternut squash recipe uses freshly roasted butternut squash and gets its delicate flavors from slow-cooked shallots, apple sauce and, of course, its featured toppings – crispy sage and toasted pepitas!
How to Roast Butternut Squash
This butternut squash roasting tip is a trick I picked up from my mother. Managing a raw squash is quite frustrating…and dangerous. In my opinion, the fewer times you have to take a knife to the hard skin of a butternut squash, the better. Before you do anything though, wash the skin of the squash thoroughly. Even though you’ll only be consuming the meat inside the squash, the skin will have contact with the rest of the squash during the roasting process. You want to make sure it’s clean.
In this vegan recipe, you’ll prep the squash for roasting only by slicing it in half. To make even this slice safer, I recommend trimming the ends of the squash to create a flat surface. This will stabilize the squash for slicing it lengthwise.
Once the butternut squash is sliced, lay it cut side down on a baking sheet and then add enough water so that the bottom of the squash is just submerged. Then, lightly baste the skin of the squash with a high-heat tolerant oil. I like safflower oil, which has a smoke point of 520º. Then, put the squash in the oven at 400º and roast it for 35-40 minutes until the skin is easily pierced with a fork. Once the butternut squash is cool enough to handle, you’ll find that both the seeds and meat scoop out quite easily with a spoon.
Making Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
One of the things I love most about soup is that it can be both healthy and satisfying. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine soup as a full meal, but a thick pureed soup like this one is just about perfect. Add a chunk of crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a hearty winter vegan dinner. For complementary flavor, make a simple extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipping sauce for your bread. The sweet acidity of the vinegar will highlight the flavors of the soup.
This butternut squash soup gets its thick consistency from the roasted squash. On its own, the roasted butternut squash is quite thick, so I add low-sodium vegetable broth, starting with ½ quart. You want to select a low-sodium broth so that you can control the saltiness of your soup.
In addition to the vegetable broth, the addition of coconut milk will also thin the soup. It’s important to note that you want the full fat, unsweetened canned coconut milk for this recipe. Not the coconut milk you find in a carton in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. And, yes, I did say full fat. You will likely see light coconut milk on the shelves as well. It’s a watered-down version of the full fat and offers up quite a bit less flavor. On the opposite end of the spectrum, skip coconut cream. It’s very thick and has a quite heavy coconut flavor.
Instead of butter, as called for in traditional recipes, I use a small amount of coconut oil in this recipe. It’s a nice complement to the other warm, sweet flavors of this butternut squash soup. And, speaking of sweetness, notice that I use unsweetened applesauce and maple syrup as natural sweeteners in this recipe.
Fall Accents: How to Garnish Your Butternut Squash Soup
For this vegan butternut squash recipe, I chose two autumn-inspired garnishments: crispy sage and roasted pepitas. The sage adds a complementary flavor to the squash, which is tempered by its crispy, pan-fried texture. Roasted pepitas are a stock item in my kitchen. I keep a jar of them in my pantry and we can be frequently be found sprinkling them in our breakfast burritos, on our avocado toast and, most definitely, in our soups.
How to Make Crispy Sage for Your Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
Whether or not you’ve cooked much with sage, I’m sure that you’re familiar with its strong fragrance. I love the smell of sage, but as an uncooked spice I find the flavor just too strong. Crispy, pan-fried sage though? That’s an entirely different matter.
I like to grow sage in my garden in the summer and in my Aerogarden in the cooler months. It’s an easy herb to grow. Whatever I’m not able to use, I dry, lightly grind and give to friends as gifts.
When pan-frying sage, you want to make sure that you thoroughly dry the leaves after you wash them. You don’t want any water interacting with the oil in the skillet when you put the sage in. The spatter will be fierce and catching drops of that on your bare skin is not very fun. The sage will cook quickly in the hot oil, so have a slotted spoon on standby and fish out the leaves as soon as they’re crisp. Allow them to dry on a paper towel and give them a light salt.
How to Make Roasted Pepitas
If you’re not familiar with pepitas, they are otherwise known as pumpkin seeds. They’re mild in flavor and have a slightly waxy texture when eaten raw. I prefer them roasted, which gives them a warm, nutty flavor and a nice crispness.
To roast them, preheat your oven to 400º. Spread them out thinly on a baking sheet and toss them in 1 tsp of a heat-tolerant oil. I like safflower oil. Then, roast them for about 6 minutes. Give them a light toss and roast them for another 4-6 minutes. They may make popping sounds as they’re roasting. Keep an eye on seeds near the edges of the baking sheet. Those will brown more quickly. As soon as the seeds start to brown, remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle the pepitas with salt. Spread them out to cool on a paper towel.
What’s in My Kitchen to Make This Vegan Butternut Squash Soup Recipe Easier?
Want to know what tools and resources I keep on hand to make my vegan cooking even easier? Here’s a short list of what helped me create this blog post and recipe. For the complete list, visit my Shop where you can find the kitchen gadgets I like as well as a list of books that I recommend.
Before I get into cooking, I want to share these napkins. I found these on Etsy over a year ago and, not only do I LOVE them, I buy them as gifts for nearly everyone I know.
These napkins are upcycled and reusable, allowing you to not only avoid throwing away paper products but to also reuse fabrics – a small but significant way to cut back on water, dyes and chemicals used in the production process.
These napkins are so darling (they come in lots of different patterns and colors) and they’re machine washable. I just throw them in with whatever load of laundry I’m doing. They don’t wrinkle easily, so a quick fold will have them back on your table doing what they were meant to do… be reused!
I only bought one of these a few months ago, but wow! I’m so much happier not peeling garlic cloves with my fingernails. I’m pretty sure I’ll collectively get at least a day of my life back because of this device.
I’ve read a dozen posts about why you shouldn’t use a garlic press. One of them actually suggested that they take up valuable kitchen space. I mean, I guess if you have a tiny kitchen you might have to make those choices. They’re smaller than a can opener. I love mine. I hate, hate, hate mincing garlic.
No, that’s not the brand. It’s just the idea! But, I own this set of Global™ knives and They’re some of my most prized possessions in the kitchen. This set is universally well-rated for the at-home chef and will get you a good, solid set of knives without totally breaking the bank.
These oven-safe porcelain bowls are the perfect serving dishes for a number of vegan dishes. I like to serve my No Chicken and Biscuits in them. They’re also great options for Vegan French Onion Soup, baked vegan Macaroni and Cheese and homey, autumn-inspired dishes like this Apple Butternut Squash Soup.
Down a broiler pan? These aluminum baking sheets come highly recommended by the cooks who know best – Epicurious, Cooks Illustrated and Food & Wine. I bought mine because I needed a good, sturdy baking sheet to use under the broiler. One that wouldn’t warp – and this one lives up to the task. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, so these baking sheets cook evenly. They’re also light in color, so they discourage over-browning.
These things are amazing! When I discovered parchment paper, I thought I had things figured out. No more greasing pans or ruining them with charred food. Then I discovered these silicon baking pads. They’re oven-safe up to 450 degrees, dishwasher safe (top rack only) and easy to clean and REUSE!
Apple Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Sage
- 5 lbs butternut squash
- 2 tbsp safflower oil divided
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup shallots roughly cut
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic roughly cut
- 1/2 quart low-sodium vegetable broth + 1/2 quart on reserve
- 1 cup full fat, unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves washed and thoroughly dried
- 1/4 cup roasted pepitas you can find the recipe here
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400º.
- Wash the skin of the squash and trim the ends to create a flat surface. Stand the squash on one trimmed end and carefully cut in half lengthwise.
- Lay the squash cut side down on a large baking sheet. Add water to the bottom of the pan, enough to allow the squash to sit in a shallow pool and lightly brush the skin of the squash with 1 tbsp safflower oil. Roast for 40-45 minutes until easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to cool.
- Heat up a large stockpot. When hot, add the coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and salt. Sauté on medium-low heat until the shallots are golden-brown. About 12-15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes more.
- Add the coconut milk, ½ quart of vegetable broth, unsweetened applesauce, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. About 15 minutes.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the seeds with a spoon and discard. Then, scoop the meat out of the skin and add it to the broth. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is smooth. If you are using a standard standing blender, carefully blend the soup in small batches. The thickness of will vary based on the size of the squashes you use. I recommend starting with ½ quart of vegetable broth. If the soup is too thick, you can add more of the vegetable broth.
- To make the crispy sage, heat up 1 tbsp of safflower oil in a small frying pan. When hot, add the sage leaves and allow to crisp. Keep a careful eye on the leaves, they will become crispy in 1-2 minutes. When crispy, remove the leaves with a slotted spoon allow them to cool on a paper towel.
- Serve the soup with a spoonful of toasted pepitas, crispy sage and salt and pepper to taste.
About Herbivore’s Kitchen
Herbivore’s Kitchen is a blog run by me, a plant-based home chef and aspiring food photographer. I switched my and my family’s diet to a plant-based diet after learning about the health benefits of going vegan. Making this change has prompted a variety of food and holistic-lifestyle related questions that I explore through this blog. I talk about how to pick and prepare the most nutritious foods, to how to reduce waste at home, to how to live a more sustainable lifestyle while on the road.