Rachel's Table

Make-Ahead Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan-Reggiano Croutons

The Thanksgiving frenzy is upon us. This year, I’ll be partaking in Thanksgiving dinner in a yet-to-be-determined restaurant in the Boston area. (Risky, I know, but I like to live on the culinary edge.)  Just because I won’t be slaving away in the kitchen doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about Thanksgiving-y foods and made up my own perfect menu in my head.

It seems like all Thanksgiving dinners are so sternly rooted in family tradition that it’s hard to change anything about the annual menu, including the side dishes. That’s why I like to come up with new appetizers and soup courses. An unexpected beginning keeps the meal new and fresh, while still allowing every at the table to enjoy old favorites.

This butternut squash soup fits into even the most traditional dinners, and the best part is you can make it a couple of days ahead, saving precious prep time on the big day.

Make-Ahead Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan-Reggiano Croutons

For the soup (serves 8)

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 14.5-ounce cans low sodium chicken broth (you can substitute vegetable stock if you like)

8 cups peeled butternut squash, cubed into 1-inch pieces (about two squash, weighing around 1.5 pounds each)

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons sugar

Kosher salt

For the croutons (this is optional and needs to be made right before serving):

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

16 baguette slices, about 1/4 inch thick

1 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon minced fresh sage

Make the soup: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about ten minutes. Add the broth, all the squash and herbs. Add a couple dashes of kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (you can also work in batches and use a regular blender). Return soup to the same pot. Stir in the cream and sugar and bring to a simmer. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. (Can be made two days ahead. Chill and rewarm over medium heat before serving. You can add more chicken stock if it gets too thick.)

Make the croutons: Butter one side of each bread slice. Arrange bread, buttered side up on a baking sheet. Broil until golden, about 1 minute. Turn over. Sprinkle liberally with cheese, thyme and sage. Broil until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Ladle soup into bowls and top each with croutons. Enjoy, but save room for everything else!

Seasonal soup served in tiny tea cups

Seasonal soup served in tiny tea cups


  1. Soups and jellies just scream fall for me! Butternut is one of my favorite squashes, but acorn, cushaw, pumpkin, or other hard squashes would do just fine. My go to is similar except I season with curry, sauté with coconut oil, and cream with coconut milk (full fat, from the can). Putting carrots and sweet potato in it also add flavor a creaminess.

    I’ll have to try it with sage and thyme this week, such seasonal herbs. That’s a great Thanksgiving side dish — though I could eat JUST that soup alone.

    • Acorn squash is good in this soup, too. I’ve done it with half acorn and half butternut squash – delish. I could see coconut milk working well here to give it sweetness, and maybe the addition of a bit of local honey.

      Let me know if you try it with sage and thyme!

  2. I got put in charge this year, so I’m deconstructing Thanksgiving. I’m cooking the turkey in stages — confit with the legs and Italian roulade with the breasts, instead of stuffing I’m doing Thomas Keller’s Parisian gnocchi with sausage, celery root, fennel… etc.

  3. Adventures in Kevin's World

    Butternut squash soup…. One of my all time favorites. When I retuurn to the U.S. I will definitely be making some……. Mmmmmmmm.

      • Adventures in Kevin's World

        Ecuador is awash in fruits of all types, but not much in the way of veggies. Ecuadorians almost seem allergic to them. Sigh. My first meal upon exiting the airport will be a massive mixed greens salad.

  4. Did you take that picture at the end? It love the tea cup idea! And the idea of soup before the traditional meal, too.

    I’ve been craving yummy soup lately… I have marinara sauce and half and half. I think I can turn that into a pseudo creamy tomato bisque, no?

    Thanksgiving dinner in Boston sounds wicked awesome. I hope you have a wonderful trip!!

    • That pic is from a dinner party at my mom’s. I cooked the whole meal, she set the table. And because the meal was heavy we served only a tea cup amount of soup – the perfect starter.

      I make tomato soup with canned tomatoes and cannelini beans, cooked with herbs, red pepper flakes and chicken stock and then blended together with an immersion blender. You could def do the same with marinara and add cream!

      I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with yummy food and family , Jules!

  5. I love the idea of putting it into tea cups. Tiny portions to give just a taste, but it won’t spoil the whole dinner. If I served myself the amount of squash soup I would like (because its one of the greatest foods ever), I would never make it to the turkey.

    I can’t wait to hear where you go in Boston! It’s been years since I lived there, but I still have restaurants that I miss as if they were old friends.

    • Aren’t those tea cups cute? And yes, smaller portions, so we can taste a bit of everything is the best idea. 🙂

      I’ll make sure to post about my Boston food finds. I love it so much up there. When you live there, the whole state gets into your soul, don’t you think?

  6. Pingback: Jamaican Jerk Soup | The Great American Feast

  7. Pingback: Butternut Squash Soup | LauraLovingLife

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