Butternut Squash Soup with Miso and Coconut

October  2, 2013

If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.

Today: A savory, spicy butternut squash soup you won't expect, but one you'll want to eat all season long. 

Butternut Squash Soup from Food52

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When the air finally became crisp, pulling back its shoulders from a lazy, slouched summer breeze, and September rolled around, other kids in my 2nd grade class looked forward to falling leaves and pumpkins and caramel apples.

For me, fall marked the important moment when I'd start devising a plan to get out of accepting the passed butternut squash at my grandfather's Thanksgiving table. A tactic in regular rotation was getting up when it came my way. When that didn't work, I'd feign ignorance, pretending not to see it, or pretending that the dish was too heavy, too hot, or oops I thought that was the rolls and I already have two. 

My aunts and uncles and cousins would tell me that he grew it in his own garden. I would tell them I was allergic. 

Butternut Squash Soup from Food52

Every year, the squash would end up on my plate anyway -- a bright orange reminder that I'd have to work harder at strategizing next year. But the next year I didn't: by then, I'd learned to love the earthy sweetness of butternut squash, but I'd grown tired of it sharing a bowl with maple, or apples, or brown sugar. It was always sweet on sweet -- less vegetable, more candy. 

The keys to this soup are the miso stock and the coconut milk. The first makes it deep and savory in that lovely way you can't identify while you're eating it, an unsung hero -- integral but otherwise unnoticed. The second makes it pleasantly rich. A gentle, background heat holds everything in check.  

Once you get through hacking up the squash (the only real butchery of the vegetable world) the rest is smooth sailing: simmer, purée, taste, adjust for seasoning. 

Butternut Squash Soup from Food52

Eat it with a hunk of good bread, and when your soup is gone, steal some from the bowl next to you. Feed it to any squash-haters you know. But be prepared to pass it again -- they may ask for seconds. 

Butternut Squash Soup with Miso and Coconut 

Serves 6 to 8

Olive oil
4 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon white shiro miso
1 large yellow onion
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or slightly more to taste
One 3-pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Eric Moran

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • amber
  • Ella Smith
    Ella Smith
  • Miche
  • LauriL
  • Susan Stitt
    Susan Stitt
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


amber November 12, 2013
So excited to try this recipe--but I have some barley miso, which i know has a stronger taste profile. Do you think I should half the amount for the soup?
Ella S. October 8, 2013
Kenzi, the genealogist in me is stirring. The Wilbur's settled colonial Rhode Island, and my line migrated into Stonington, CT and Noank, CT. Thought you might be interested, chances are we are distant kin. 16th cousins, maybe? :). The soup looks fabulous. Can't wait to prepare it. I have a butternut squash on my counter, and some dried coconut and a vita-mix, just waiting to be made into milk!
Kenzi W. October 8, 2013
This is too crazy. My family legend has it that I'm a relative of Roger Williams, who indeed helped settle colonial Rhode Island. Food52: where distant cousins meet?
LauriL October 8, 2013
Really cool!
Ella S. October 9, 2013
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Providence, RI, visit Prospect Terrace Park on Congdon Street, which is located near Brown University. (A beautiful area!). This park is located on top of a hill, and has an enormous statue of Roger Williams with out-stretched hands guarding the city. It is a stunning view. I haven't spoken to anyone yet, who descends from Roger Williams. This makes you special. I descend from Anne Hutchinson, whom Roger Williams allowed into his colony after she was ejected from Massachusetts Bay Colony. Maybe you have Hutchinson blood, also. I can see the Williams and Wilbur's marrying. Now that you are an established Rhode Islander, you will have to start preparing clam chowder with the clear broth (the only chowder worth making), Johnny cakes,
and coffee milk. I love Rhode Island!
Miche October 6, 2013
This soup is delicious. But I'd recommend using less cayenne if you're not a very spicy food person.
Kenzi W. October 7, 2013
So glad! And yep, you're right -- it's got a serious kick.
LauriL October 6, 2013
Oh my. Just oh my. Now have my first course for Thanksgiving! Thanks Kenzi!!
Kenzi W. October 7, 2013
Yay! Glad you like it.
LauriL October 6, 2013
Just the smells in the kitchen are driving me nuts!! Almost ready to put on the final touches.
Susan S. October 6, 2013
gorgeous recipe
Cookie16 October 6, 2013
All I need is a squash! Will wait for next weekend when I can make it to the farmers market :) A Safeway squash just won't do!
LauriL October 3, 2013
Got my Miso today!! Soup tomorrow! I never knew how creative you were in avoiding grampa's squash. Glad you're making up for lost squash moments!!!
Toledo K. October 2, 2013
Here I thought I had my butternut squash soup recipe perfected, and now you throw miso in the mix. I just happen to have some shiro in my fridge. Thanks.
Kenzi W. October 2, 2013
Let me know how it comes out if you try it! Fun fact: I use miso stock in a lot of soups and risottos, etc. It's sort of a magical ingredient.
Toledo K. October 2, 2013
Miso stock? I assume you mean miso paste and water. That's a great idea.
Kenzi W. October 2, 2013
Yep, that's what I call it in the recipe. And also my own kitchen to feel like a pro.