This simple butternut squash soup gets an incredible burst of flavor from fresh pears and a bit of curry powder. Pears, squash, and curry might sound like an unusual combination - but trust us when we tell you these flavors blend together beautifully for an elegant (but easy!) curry squash soup that's perfect for fall.
Pears and butternut squash might be the most underrated pairing of all time (right up there with our strawberry salsa salmon). These ingredients typically have a bit of seasonal overlap, and this squash soup recipe is the perfect way to take advantage of that beautiful fall produce as the temperatures start to drop. We've tested this recipe with Bartlett pears and Bosc pears - both are great here!
A bit of curry powder gives this soup some depth. The curry taste is subtle, but important. We'll also finish things off by swirling in some crème fraîche (kind of a runnier, richer, less sour version of sour cream - we like this one from Vermont Creamery!)
PS - You might be tempted to skip the crème fraîche here: DON'T. It makes all the difference.
Our basic order of operations
- Sauté some onion and celery in a bit of oil until the onion is translucent and starts to brown.
- Add spices. Mix curry powder and a generous pinch of salt into the onion mixture.
- Stir in some chicken broth or vegetable stock along with chopped pears and butternut squash. Add another pinch of salt here too!
- Bring everything up to a simmer for 40 minutes or so, until squash and pears are very soft.
- Blend! When everything is cooked through, use an immersion blender to purée the soup. Stir in some crème fraîche and give it one more zap with the immersion blender until the soup is silky smooth.
- Taste the soup. Add extra curry powder and another pinch of salt if needed. (Rule of thumb: If the soup doesn't taste complex enough, add curry powder. If the flavors are there but don't pop yet, add salt).
A few tips for excellent soup
- Don't skip the crème fraîche. We spent months testing a dozen dairy-free versions of this recipe, but they just weren't as good: we kept coming back to the crème fraîche. That creaminess and slight tang (a great balance to the pear flavor) are what takes the recipe from "pretty good" to "OMG THIS SOUP."
- Make sure the veggies are very soft before blending: A piece of pear or squash should smush down fairly easily when you press it into the side of a pot with a spoon or spatula. This can take awhile - be patient! That squish-ability is the key to a smooth, silky soup.
- Use a powerful immersion blender. A great blender is the key to a smooth soup here. If your immersion blender doesn't always get soups or sauces as creamy as you'd like, you may want to peel the pears before cooking to help eliminate as much extra texture as possible. Also: For the creamiest soup, keep blending for a minute or two even after the soup is mostly smooth!
A note about curry powder
Curry powder, though often associated with Indian cuisine, is a British invention: one rooted in colonization and "a willful ignorance of the diversity of Indian food". Curry powder is an oversimplification of Indian cooking, has no "correct" or authentic formula, and varies widely by brand or by recipe. And: It's a useful modern shortcut when you don't have the time or ingredients to measure out a handful of individual spices.
Because curry powders vary so widely, we recommend starting with just a Tablespoon in this recipe, and then tasting and adding more curry powder a little at a time until the flavors pop and suit your taste buds.
Use a store bought blend (we like the Simply Organic or McCormick Organic curry powders) or make a homemade spice mix with your favorite recipe.
Riffs and Substitutions
- For a smoother soup, peel the pears before adding them to the saucepan. You can also strain the blended soup through a sieve/fine strainer or run it through a food mill to remove any lingering texture!
- Swap the pears for fresh apples (à la our Apple Tomato Soup!)
- Save some time by using canned or frozen butternut squash. This curried butternut squash soup is also good with pumpkin purée!
- Roast the squash! We love cooking this soup in one pot on the stove to keep things easy, but you can pack even more flavor into this soup by roasting the squash and veggies first. Halve and seed your butternut squash, quarter the onion instead of chopping it, and throw it all on a sheet pan with the whole celery sticks, a drizzle of olive oil, and some salt. Roast at 400° F for 30-40 minutes, then scoop the roasted squash out of the skin and transfer it with the onions and celery to a saucepan with the curry powder and stock. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to deepen the flavor, then blend and serve as directed!
What goes well with this soup?
Soup is the perfect excuse to make a bunch of tasty side dishes! Some of our favorite things to serve with this easy butternut squash soup recipe:
- Crusty Bread (use our fan-favorite homemade artisan bread recipe or try our small batch crusty bread!)
- Apple, Brie, and Bacon grilled cheese
- A quick lemon Dijon arugula salad
- Easy Pumpkin Biscuits or Gruyere Biscuits
A few FAQs
Yes! Let soup cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat. For best results, wait to add the crème fraîche until the soup is reheated and ready to eat.
Yes - use a lightly-flavored vegetable stock in place of chicken stock for a vegetarian soup. While you can make this soup vegan, the flavor won't be quite as balanced, so you may need to make some additional tweaks to suit your palate. If you need to make this soup vegan, use coconut milk or coconut cream instead of crème fraîche, and add a few drops of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar at the end of cooking to round out the flavor.
The curry powder taste in this recipe is very subtle - it doesn't taste like a curry dish you would serve over rice. If you don't like the flavor of curry powder, you can reduce the amount to 1 or 2 teaspoons for an even mellower flavor, or omit it entirely (although the flavors won't be as balanced without it). This soup is also good with a teaspoon of dried rosemary in place of curry powder.
We've tested about a dozen different versions of this recipe - and honestly, the crème fraîche is what sends it over the top. If you don't have any on hand, though, you can substitute a 50/50 mix of heavy cream and sour cream (or Greek yogurt) for the crème fraîche in a pinch.
We don't recommend it. While butternut squash skin is technically edible, it has a tough texture that doesn't blend well and is sometimes coated in a waxy preservative. For best results, remove the peel from your butternut squash before adding it to this soup (Not sure how to peel and cut a butternut squash? Check out this helpful post!)
We've tested this recipe with both Bartlett and Bosc pears - both work great! Use whichever pear variety you most like to eat. The pear flavor is fairly mild here, but if you want less sweetness in this soup you can use just one pear instead of two.
This easy soup recipe is packed with flavor and perfect for fall!
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2 large stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1-2 Tablespoons curry powder (see recipe notes)
- salt to taste
- 2 pears, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 ¼-1 ½ pounds) peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
- 3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 ounces crème fraîche (about ½ cup), plus extra for garnish
- ¼ cup pepitas, for garnish (optional) what are pepitas?
- Black pepper, for garnish (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in curry powder with a generous pinch of salt.
- Add chopped pears, butternut squash, and chicken stock to the pot and stir to combine.
- Add another pinch of salt, then bring the pot to a low simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the vegetables and pears are cooked through and very soft, about 40-60 minutes. Note: The exact cook time will depend on the size of your squash pieces, the size of the pot, etc. When the soup is ready to be blended, the squash should be easily pierced with a fork.
- Turn off the heat, then use an immersion blender to carefully blend the soup until smooth. Always use caution when blending hot liquids.
- Add crème fraîche to soup and give it another zap with the immersion blender to blend everything together.
- Taste soup. Stir in additional salt and/or curry powder if needed.
- Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with crème fraîche, pepitas, and a few turns of cracked black pepper, and serve immediately.
A note about curry powder. Curry powders vary widely by brand and by recipe: you will likely need to adjust the amount of curry powder in this recipe to suit your own tastes. We recommend starting with 1 Tablespoon of curry powder, then tasting the finished soup and adding an extra 1 teaspoon if needed (with McCormick Organic and Simply Organic curry powders, 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon was the sweet spot with this recipe). The curry flavor is pretty mellow in this soup, but you can dial it up or down to suit your palate. If you’re using a homemade or especially flavorful curry powder, you may need to reduce the total amount here (especially if your curry powder uses fresh/strong spices like Diaspora Co as the base).
What kind of pears should I use? We've tested this recipe with both Bartlett and Bosc pears - both work great! Use whatever pears you like to eat. If you want to reduce the sweetness of this soup, use just one pear.
Additions and substitutions. Use roasted butternut squash instead of cooking the squash in the saucepan with the stock. You can also use frozen diced butternut squash to save a bit of time here. Use apples instead of pears if you like.
If you don’t have crème fraîche, use a 50/50 mix of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and heavy cream instead - sour cream on its own will overpower the soup a bit; cutting it with heavy cream gets you the closest to the crème fraîche flavor. Sour cream is also more likely to separate in this soup, so be sure to blend it well after adding any sour cream to ensure a smooth consistency.
Adjusting the consistency. Once blended, if the soup is too thick, add a splash of stock or heavy cream to thin it out a bit. If the soup is too thin, let it simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the soup reaches your desired consistency.
For a smoother soup, peel the pears before coring and dicing them. A strong immersion blender or countertop blender should give you a very smooth soup (even with the peels), but in our recipe testing we did notice a slight variation in the soup’s smoothness depending on which blender was used. If you’d like an even smoother texture, strain the blended soup through a mesh sieve or run it through the fine blade of a food mill.
No immersion blender? If you don't have an immersion blender, carefully transfer soup to a blender in batches and blend until smooth. Be sure to remove the center cap piece on your blender’s lid before blending to allow steam to escape - otherwise the steam can build up and pop the top off to make a huge mess. Cover the hole in the lid with a clean tea towel for a moment when you begin blending and again when you stop the blender to avoid splattering. Always follow the care instructions on your equipment and use caution when blending hot soups.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 351
- Sugar: 13.9 g
- Sodium: 1110 mg
- Fat: 22.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 34.8 g
- Protein: 5.7 g
- Cholesterol: 40.5 mg
Keywords: soup, fall, bisque