Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Sherry

October 21, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

I've been making the same basic butternut squash soup for years, adding twists and tweaks as I see fit, and it never fails to satisfy me when a chill enters the air. It's smooth and creamy, the way I think squash soup should be, and it's the perfect thing to whip up over the weekend to have in your fridge all week long. This version relies on sherry for depth and a little intrigue -- if you don't have sherry on hand, you can skip it, or just substitute with brandy (Madeira would be nice) if you have some lying around.

Merrill Stubbs

Serves: 4 to 6


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large leek, white and light green part only, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 3-to-4-pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry, plus more to finish
  • 2 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for serving
In This Recipe


  1. Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until softened—this should take about 5 minutes (if leek starts to brown, add a tablespoon or so of water).
  2. Add the squash, nutmeg, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the sherry and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce, then add enough chicken stock just to cover the squash (if you have added all of the stock and still need more liquid, add some water).
  4. Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  5. Using a blender or a food processor, blend the soup with the milk in several batches, adding more liquid if necessary.
  6. Return to the pot and heat until just simmering. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in another splash of sherry and the cream just before serving, adding a drizzle of cream to garnish each bowl if you like.

More Great Recipes:
Soup|American|Milk/Cream|Nutmeg|Sherry|Vegetable|Leek|Make Ahead|Christmas|Fall|Thanksgiving|Appetizer

Reviews (69) Questions (9)

69 Reviews

Jo A. October 22, 2018
This was a great tasting, quick to make soup. I think it would be easy to change it up too.
Author Comment
Merrill S. October 22, 2018
So glad you liked it!
barb48 April 16, 2018
I bought pre-cut butternut squash at Whole Foods. Not sure if it's ripe. Should I roast it first? Would that give it flavor or anything if it's not ripe? Also, no alcohol at home to add, and prefer to skip the dairy stuff. Did I just ruin this recipe?
Miche April 16, 2018
No need to roast first. You can use coconut milk to replace the cream (and some of the stock, if you want richer.) It might be a little flat without the sherry, but you can try a little apple juice or cider instead, or some indian spices if you like them.
Marcellene December 31, 2017
I followed the recipe and used Amontillado sherry. The soup was fantastic- smooth and creamy. I used a Vitamix and whole milk. My husband loved it and he is not generally a fan of butternut squash.
Suzy Q. December 29, 2017
I made a few changes after reading the reviews. I used vermouth since I'd run out of dry Sherry. I also choose to roast the squash for flavor plus I do not need to work when the oven can do it for me... I added a spray evoo (Trader Joe's) on the now 4 flat sides of the raw squash and also added smashed garlic and 2 fresh pieces of sage... my squash was 3 lbs. I used 2 c chicken broth, 1 c milk. After the butter, shallots, S & P, nutmeg and 2 T vermouth were ready I added the scooped roasted squash to the pot and cooked a bit more. I used my immersion blender, in the stock pot, while the squash was hot. <br />All and all the soup turned out ok. For me it really wasn't worth the effort perhaps I'm missing something? Oh, before serving I did add 1/2 and 1/2,. I should have added the duck fat as one reviewer recommended. No doubt not using homemade chicken stock would have made a big difference compared to chicken broth. Happy cooking!
JulieBee December 29, 2017
Hi there. I really think this soup is worth the effort, but with only a few minimal changes. <br />This is how I cook this soup over and over and it's a winner!<br />I use onions only, not leeks, and when sauteing, I add a bit of sherry during that process, which adds depth of flavor to the onions. I would not use vermouth in this recipe. But for me the real key to this recipe is not using chicken stock, but vegetable stock. I found chicken stock, even homemade, too rich for this vegetable based soup. Also, no need here to roast the squash. I never use as much milk as is called for, maybe only about 1/4 cup, a big splash of heavy cream and a big 2-3 tablespoons of sour cream mixed in to the soup. When serving, I add a dollop of sour cream to the top as a garnish with ground pepper and a swirl of olive oil. It is truly fantastic everytime. Maybe fry some sage and add with some roasted croutons too. A+
Suzy Q. December 29, 2017
Thank you Julie. I guess I'll give it another go? I appreciate your time and reply.
Jo A. October 22, 2018
I actually think leeks are awesome in this recipe.
Taylor S. November 11, 2017
Such a wonderful soup. Perfect! I subbed half a yellow onion for the leeks, used ghee as my fat, subbed vegetable stock for chicken, and omitted the dairy. You wouldn't even know it though since it's so creamy and concentrated with flavor!
NICK October 14, 2016
I've made this a number of tides and tweak it differently each time and it always turns out incredible. My favorite so far is adding some parsnip. I never want to overpower the leak and butternut squash and with parsnip it's easy to do so, so I get a slightly smaller squash but do about a 4:1 ratio of squash to parsnip. Adds a nice extra dimension to the dish.
JulieBee October 27, 2015
Oh I forgot in my last comment, I also used vegetable stock instead of chicken, and again, it tasted amazing. Thanks Merrill, this will be a staple recipe.
JulieBee October 27, 2015
Made this with onions instead of leeks and it was delicious. Also, I served this soon after making, and it was still really tasty (normally I think soup has to sit for a long time to develop optimal flavor). A+
Susan October 23, 2015
I followed the directions but the finished product seemed a little one dimensional. Rather than adding the heavy cream at the end, I had some duck fat in my fridge so I swirled in 3 TB with an immersion blender and the results were amazing.
Donna H. October 15, 2015
Can this soup be frozen?
Viney February 22, 2015
So delicious! Made it with lite coconut milk for all of the dairy (added toward end of last 20 min of simmering, water for the stock, Madeira instead of Sherry, and roasted butternut and Chinese pumpkin for the veg. Beautiful colors, too.
Lauren C. October 9, 2014
Very tasty! I also roasted the squash first, with a little garlic, and had to replace the sherry with vermouth (I should really start reading recipes all the way through before shopping/starting to cook...). I really liked the flavour of the leeks. A nice, quick and easy soup for a weeknight dinner - I paired it with some Irish soda bread and we loved it. Next time I might try roasting a hot red pepper with it to add a bit more depth and spice.
Jenny S. September 21, 2014
Just made this tonight. It was so good! I'm already making my Thanksgiving menu and this is definitely making an appearance.
Hark February 11, 2014
I used white pepper, and it was waaaaay overpowering. Next time I will be following the directions properly.
Tifani February 3, 2014
OMG, this is sooo good! Only change that I made was to roast the squash first and put it into the pot. Because it was already tender, I only simmered for about 10 minutes with the other ingredients before pouring it all into the blender. So delicious!
mauigirlcooks January 16, 2014
Mmmmm, this soup looks thick and delicious. Butternut Squash soup is also delicious with blue cheese toasts!
Yessica December 12, 2013
This was fabulous!! served it as the first course to our family dinner. No left overs for the next day...good and bad. I will make this again for sure.
Author Comment
Merrill S. December 12, 2013
So glad you liked it!
Martha H. December 7, 2013
Made this tonight. I roasted the squash for 45 min, then scooped it into the pot. I'm so glad I did. It gave it a sweetness that is wonderful. Only had a little bit of onion. No leeks. Used Almond milk. No cream. Lots of pepper. Had to use my smoothly maker to wiz it. It turned out so good, I can't believe it. Thanks.
Author Comment
Merrill S. December 12, 2013
Sounds like you made some great tweaks!
Tyfusion November 27, 2013
Just made a double batch for thanksgiving, turned out great. Used two full leeks and added a little plus to the nutmeg and pepper. I can taste the extra black pepper so this can prob be reduced to 1.75 if making a double, otherwise fantastic. Used a submersible blender in a large pot which I can tell would be easier than transferring to a processor. Watched this vid for chopping the squash: Used this video for cleaning and chopping the leeks (sweet lady): Used vegetable stock in lieu of chicken. It's not too salty or fatty, but I'm tasting it the night before without the added heavy cream. I am now planning to add some grilled pancetta to the surface when serving with the cream for a little extra body. Excellent and easy recipe!
neshama369 November 17, 2013
Hi and thanks for the gorgeous recipe. I found canned butternut squash at Whole Foods and would love to use it. It comes in 15 oz cans. How much would I need for your recipe?