This vegan roasted buttercup squash soup recipe is incredible easy to make and is deliciously creamy with a velvety rich texture that’s perfect for fall! I like to top it with crunchy maple spiced pumpkin seeds to compliment the silky smooth soup. This easy-to-make soup is loaded with healthy fall vegetables and is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. It’s great to make-ahead for easy meal prep or freezer meals.
This a great hearty soup to make through the fall season. It’s made simple ingredients and is a great make-ahead option. I like to make a double batch and freeze it in single servings for easy lunches this time of year.
Table of contents
What Is Buttercup Squash?
Buttercup squash is my favorite winter squash to cook and bake with. It’s what I use for the best vegan pumpkin pie recipe and my delicious pumpkin agnolotti recipe. Buttercup squash is my go-to variety for making homemade pumpkin puree and I use it in everything pumpkin-flavored like my gluten-free pumpkin bread recipe and these easy vegan pumpkin muffins.
We grow an heirloom variety called Burgess Buttercup every year in our garden to use throughout the fall and winter. It is a medium-sized round winter squash with dark green skin and a lighter green buttoned turban at the blossom end. Its flesh is thick, dry, and bright orange with a sweet flavor that is perfect for roasting, making pumpkin puree, and adding to cozy soups and stews.
Many consider it to be one of the best-tasting winter squash. Buttercup squash is sweeter than other varieties like butternut squash and acorn squash with a taste similar to sweet potatoes. When it’s cooked it has a creamy smooth texture and adds body to soups and stews.
Buttercup Squash vs. Butternut Squash
Although their names are very alike and easy to confuse that’s where the similarities of these two winter squash varieties end.
Butternut squash is a more common variety of winter squash readily available at the grocery store year round. It has an elongated shape with a round bottom end and a light tan waxy hard skin that is difficult to peel. It’s orange flesh is also sweet but has a milder flavor. Butternut squash is more watery than buttercup squash.
The dark green exterior of buttercup squash is thin and completely edible. It’s not easy to peel when it’s raw but once it’s baked the cooked pumpkin flesh can be scooped out of the skin easily. Buttercup squash has a thick dry flesh with a creamy texture and is more flavorful that butternut squash.
That said, the taste and texture of each individual squash, no matter the variety, can vary depending on its growing conditions and when it was harvested. When choosing a buttercup squash look for a squash that feels heavy, with a dark orange ground spot (the spot where the squash touched the ground as it grew), and a completely dry and twisted stem.
Buttercup Squash – The main ingredient of this creamy soup is buttercup squash. Its rich sweet pumpkin flavor shines in this recipe. Substitutions: Try other sweet winter squashes such as ambercup squash, honeynut squash, koginut squash or kabocha squash for similar results. You can also swap it with butternut squash to make creamy butternut squash soup.
Rice – White rice acts as a thickener and helps create a velvety smooth soup when it pureed with the squash. The resulting soup so creamy that you’d never know it was made without heavy cream. It’s a secret chef hack to thicken creamy soups like tomato soup and it’s naturally gluten free. Use any long grain white such as basmati or jasmine rice. Substitutions: Rice adds body to the soup but can be left out if you don’t have it. Just puree the squash and veggies with vegetable broth or vegetable stock instead of the rice and its cooking liquid.
Vegetables – Roasting the squash with other fall vegetable adds flavor to the soup. I like to use a mix of carrots, onions, and fennel which all pair well with the flavor of buttercup squash and don’t overpower it. Substitutions: Other vegetables that would work well in this recipe are celery, parsnips, and red sweet pepper. Mushrooms and apples are also great add-ins to try.
Aromatics – Garlic is a must for this recipe. I like to roast garlic cloves with their skins on with the squash. Roasted garlic adds so much depth of flavor to the soup. Grated fresh ginger root adds a zing that pairs well with the sweetness of the squash and carrots. Fresh herbs like thyme, sage or rosemary all pair well with the flavors in this recipe.
Spices – I like to keep it simple and really showcase the flavors of the seasonal squash and fall veggies. Cumin pairs nicely with the sweetness of the squash and black pepper and red pepper flakes add a hint of warming heat to the finished dish. Substitutions: You can add any spices you like here and play with the flavors. Add a touch of ground cinnamon or curry powder for an extra depth of flavor. Or kick up the spiciness with red curry paste. Try adding chipotles in adobo sauce and fresh cilantro for a Mexican twist.
Pumpkin Seeds – While the squash and veggies are roasting I like to make maple spiced pepitas for a crunchy topping for the soup. They add a crunchy element to contrast the smooth texture of the squash soup and are so simple to make. All you need are raw shelled pumpkin seeds, maple syrup, salt and ground cumin.
See the full ingredient list and amounts in the recipe card below.
How To Make Creamy Buttercup Squash Soup
Step 1: Roast the Squash and Veggies
Cut the buttercup squash in half on a cutting board and scoop out the seeds. Then cut the halves in half again so you have 4 large pieces. Cut the rest of the veggies into large chunks and coat everything in olive oil and seasonings on a sheet pan or roasting pan. Roast the squash cut-side up until it is fork tender.
Step 2: Cook the Rice
While the squash and veggies roast, cook the rice in plenty extra water so you’ll have a flavored cooking liquid to use as the base or broth for the soup. I like to cook the rice with the fresh herbs, ginger and cumin to flavor the broth. You can also cook the rice in veggie broth instead of water, but I find it ins’t necessary and sometimes will overpower the flavor of the squash and veggies.
Step 3: Roast the Pumpkin Seeds (Optional)
If you’re making the maple spice pepitas, roast them while the squash is roasting. Simply coat the pumpkin seeds in oil, maple and spices then spread them onto a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast them until they are puffed and nicely browned. Take them out of the oven when they are done and let them cool to room temperature until the soup is ready to serve.
Step 4: Puree in a Blender
Add the cooked rice and its cooking liquid to a regular blender, but first remove any woody stemmed herbs like thyme. Scoop flesh of the roasted squash out with a spoon, leaving behind the skin and add it to the blender along with the roasted vegetables. Remove the skins from the roasted garlic cloves and add the roasted garlic to the blender.
Puree the rice broth mixture and squash mixture on high speed until it is smooth and creamy with no lumps. Alternatively, you can puree the soup in a large saucepan with an immersion blender or stick blender.
Step 5: Heat and Serve
Pour the puree soup back into the saucepan you cooked the rice in and heat the soup up over medium heat before serving it. Top each serving with a dollop of coconut cream or plain non-dairy yogurt, the maple spiced pepitas and fresh herbs or edible flowers to garnish the dish.
Let the soup cool completely then store leftover soup in airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Reheat to serve. To freeze the soup, store it in airtight plastic deli containers or freezer bags, label them with the date and freeze for up to 3 months. Freeze single servings for heat and serve meals all soup season long.
While butternut squash is more commonly used, buttercup squash is the best squash for making an easy butternut squash soup recipe.
Yes, butternut and buttercup squash soup freezes well. See the section labeled Storage above for details on how to freeze the soup.
Yes, this vegan buttercup squash soup is nutritious and a great way to eat your vegetables. It has healthy fats and carbohydrates, protein, and is full of vitamins and minerals.
More Cozy Fall Recipes
- Nourishing Vegan Mung Dal Stew Recipe
- Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Stew
- Potato Pierogi with Edible Flowers
- 3-Ingredient Vegan Sweet Potato Gnocchi
- Vegan Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
- Hungarian Chicken Paprikash Recipe (Paprikás Csirke)
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- 1.5 lbs buttercup squash halved and seeds removed
- 1/2 large sweet onion peeled (or 1 whole small sweet onion)
- 2 large carrots peeled
- 1 small fennel bulb or 1/2 of a large bulb
- 3 cloves garlic with skin on
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1/4 cup white rice rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium tamari
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme or sage
Maple Spiced Pepitas
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup coconut milk or non-dairy unsweetened yogurt
- 1/4 cup edible flower and/or fresh herbs
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut squash into 4 large pieces, leaving skin on. Cut onion in half. Cut carrots into quarters. Remove heart (the tough part) of fennel bulb and cut fennel into quarters. Spread squash, carrots, onion, garlic and fennel on the baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle everything with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Bake at 400˚F for 45 minutes or until squash is fork tender and vegetables are cooked through and start to caramelize.
- Meanwhile bring water, rice, remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and seasonings to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a simmer with lid cracked for 10 minutes until rice is cooked through. Remove thyme stems. Set the rice and its cooking liquid aside until roasted vegetables are ready.
- When vegetables are done roasting, remove them from the oven and scoop cooked squash out of it's skin, discarding the skin. Remove and discard the skin from garlic cloves.
- Transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender along with the rice and cooking liquid. Blend everything together on high speed until creamy and smooth. Return blended mixture to the saucepan and warm on low heat. If soup seems too thick, stir in another 1/2 cup of water. Taste for salt and add more to taste if needed.
- Serve the soup hot topped with a dollop of coconut milk or plain unsweetened non-dairy yogurt and maple spiced pepitas.
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Coat pumpkin seeds with oil, maple syrup and seasonings.
- Spread pumpkin seeds into baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes, keeping a close eye on them so they don't burn. The pepitas are done when the puff up and turn dark golden brown and will be crunchy.
- This soup will keep covered and refrigerated for several days, or frozen for up to 6 months. To reheat, bring to a simmer in a saucepan, adding a bit of water if too thick and/or more salt to taste if needed.
- Buttercup squash can be substituted with other winter squashes sucg as butternut, amberbercup, blue hubbard or kabocha squash.