I am a woman with a lot of opinions. Especially when it comes to food. I believe that deep dish pizza should not be considered pizza. I reject the entire existence of candy corn. Almost anything can be made better with an egg.
And most “fall” flavors are terrible.
Yes, I truly believe that fall is completely blown out of proportion in the culinary world. Now, this is a bold statement, but stick with me. The fall flavors I reject? Pumpkin spice everything. Sticking sage on a dish just because you can. Flooding the market with inherently “American” flavors. You know what I am talking about. No one does pumpkin like Americans. Typically, sickly sweet, or shoved into any type of meal possible, fall is loud. By loud, I mean in your face, in every product, reaching every corner of the culinary world from cheesecake to beers.
Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin and fall. The minute the weather drops below 70, I bust out my grain free pumpkin doughnut recipe, and I enjoy it fully. But enough is enough. Fall is not just pumpkin. When you see pumpkin spiced chicken sausages in the store, I think the world is telling us we are past the point of gross.
I am not a fall hater, I promise. I get my cozy on like everyone else. But I believe that fall flavors are not appreciated for the delicate palette that they are. Give pumpkin a break (for a little bit) and cook up some lush chard with garlic and butter. Grab a pomegranate and mix it with your yogurt, letting the little jewels burst, sweetening your breakfast naturally. Relish in all the other squash that are abundant at this time. Put down the PSL and pick up a butternut squash.
Pick it up, roast it, and turn it into this creamy, flavorful soup. Butternut squash does NOT get the love that it desperately needs. That is why I have more butternut squash recipes in my back pocket than pumpkin. I fell in love with it a few years ago, and it is my go-to during these flannel drenched months. One of my favorite chili recipes actually uses chunks of butternut to cut through the spice and heavy beans, and you can make it here (perfect for football!).
I made this recipe a few times, as I couldn’t decide if I wanted to include broth. After many taste tests, and confirming with Jake, I decided to leave it out. We decided that the thick, bisque consistency was much better than the thinner version. I first fell in love with the spicy butternut squash with my chili recipe, so ever since then, I can’t help but add chili to my squash almost always.
It reminds me of empanada filling. Which sounds strange, but it is exactly what your body needs. There was a sweet potato empanada that I ate growing up that had a savory quality to it that made it addicting. Like this soup. Sweet, spicy, earthy, and the surprising crunch from the pepita seeds that give it a satisfying texture. It is hard to explain how good this soup is. It is as if you have always craved it, even if you have never had anything like it. If you aren’t vegan, add some shaved Parmesan on top, it gives it an extra oomph, or a thick slice of garlic bread to dip into it.
If you decide to make this for a meal prep dish to pair with salad, just thin it with a little water when you heat it up. It will thicken A LOT in the fridge because of the coconut milk so it will resemble pudding almost. It still tastes good, but not really what you are going for. I recommend eating it the same day, but it reheats well with a little water.
The directions are so simple as well (another bonus). Roast the butternut squash with olive oil and cinnamon for about 35-40 minutes (depending on size). While that is roasting, toss the pepitas with olive oil, cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Roast (watch closely, as these burn easily, take it from me) for about 4-6 minutes mixing in the middle of the roasting time, you want them just slightly browned. Take them out and set aside. Once the squash is fork tender, set aside to slightly cool. Cook the sliced onions until tender, then add the garlic. Scoop out the butternut squash out of its skin, add the well shaken coconut milk can and combine with an immersion blender. If you do not have one, just add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Feel free to add some water if you want it a little thinner. Add the spices and salt (add chili by ½ teaspoon at a time just so you can handle the heat), and simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Scoop out some soup, and top with those crispy pepitas!
Whether you want to rebel against pumpkin spice, or you are just looking for something new to mix up your fall routine, this soup is the absolute best choice.
How can you go wrong with sweet AND spicy?
Vegan Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Pepitas
Author: Allie Brendel
Rich, creamy, squash soup that incorporates chili powder and cinnamon for a sweet and spicy bowl of fall. Crunchy, spiced, pepitas give this dish an extra dose of tasty.
Makes: 6 servings
- For soup:
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 can coconut milk (full fat shaken well)
- 1 onion sliced (1/2 cup)
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Sprinkle of black pepper
- For pepitas:
- 1 cup of pepitas
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- Pre-Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice a butternut squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and discard (or clean and roast for later), slice onion and set aside.
- Rub the butternut squash flesh with olive oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Place the butternut squash in a lightly oiled casserole dish or 2 to 3 inch deep pan (to catch the juices).
- Roast the butternut squash for about 30-40 minutes until fork tender. (Feel free to make the pepitas during this time, directions below)
- Once the squash is roasted, set aside to partially cool. Start the onions.
- Melt some coconut oil in a stock pot, cook onion until translucent about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the minced garlic, stirring into the onion. Scoop the roasted butternut squash out of its skin into the pot, add the canned coconut milk.
- Blend all ingredients together with an immersion blender (alternatively, you can blend this in a blender and add it back into the stock pot)
- Add salt, and spices, simmer soup to let everything mingle, about 10 minutes on low.
- For pepitas: On a cookie sheet, mix olive oil, spices, a sprinkle of salt, roast in a 400 degree oven for 4-6 minute until nicely toasted. Be careful, these burn easy!
- Recipe notes: Feel free to thin this out with water if you want it less thick. If reheating the next day, use a little water to thin it, as this is coconut milk based and will thicken in the fridge.