Make Ahead

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Sherry

October 21, 2011
17 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • saramarsh
  • kiwicotage
  • Jo Anne Peyton
    Jo Anne Peyton
  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • JulieBee

75 Reviews

saramarsh November 9, 2023
I LOVE how quickly this comes together, but I've always felt it's needed an extra hit of seasoning, other than S & P....Garam Masala is our hero. And a dash of Madras Curry powder.
Try it!
dtoddy80 October 28, 2023
This soup was excellent, great flavor!
kiwicotage April 17, 2022
Lovely soup. I roasted leeks and squash and then added the remainder of the ingredients in the pot. Instead of heavy cream, had ricotta which really worked...
rkegeo October 20, 2019
I’ve been making this recipe since the time it was published. It is my absolute favorite! I don’t modify the recipe at all unless I mess up in which case I have to google ways to make a correction. Clearly, I am NOT a chef by any stretch of the imagination! However, the ex-husband was and he’d sauté crab meat and turn the soup into a bisque. That was really good too! Now though, I’m back to the original recipe which I like more than him anyway. If you’re craving carbs, it’s fantastic in a Panera bread bowl. Anyway, for the stick-to-the-recipe cooks out there... this will definitely fool those that are! It’s amazing!
K N. October 10, 2019
Tasty soup! I had every intention of following the recipe but I will readily admit that it ended up being more of a template for the version I made. I easily doubled the recipe and made it dairy free by using olive oil and adding more water instead of the milk. I ended up using half chicken broth and half veggie broth (made from the better than bouillon base) and they worked well together. I planned on using butternut squash but ended up using kabocha (about 6 lbs.) which I hadn't used in soup before but had a great squash-y flavor. Interestingly, it also made the texture more like sweet potato soup which we really liked. It thickens up a lot in the fridge and then loosens up when reheated.

My biggest change however was accidental...while I thought we had a couple of sherries from a Spanish themed potluck it turned out we only had a cream sherry that I'd used in a dessert and I was really uncertain about adding it to a soup. Not to worry, I can use madeira! Except, what I thought was madeira was actually in went the marsala and it was tasty! I love soup recipes that are this flexible! That said, I really do want to try the original version with sherry.
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.
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.
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.
This is how I cook this soup over and over and it's a winner!
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?
Carolina C. February 26, 2022
I never tried, but it likely freezes well. I would recommend doing the whole thing until the last step, then freezing. Add cream and additional sherry only after reheating.
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!