spiced butternut squash and carrot soup

spiced butternut squash and carrot soup

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Thanksgiving. I’m ready for Vermont, itching to get out of the city. And it’s not that I don’t love New York, but I need to be surrounded by trees and mountains for awhile. Brooklyn, you don’t count – you never wear me out. But Manhattan – I’m looking at you. Today’s commute alone was that final straw that made me want to be instantly transported to rural New England. I wanted to be in a rustic house, wearing wool socks and eating this soup. I think it could do lots of soothing things for my soul. And if yours needs soothing, might I suggest a bowlful?

Soup is a funny thing. It strikes me as a thing people can tolerate, or love. But apparently, there are people out there who hate soup. I don’t get it. It’s a little like hating “WALL-E”. How can anyone hate Wall-e with his Short Circuit physique and his love of “Hello, Dolly!” But I once overheard people discussing it on the subway, and called it pointless and silly. I wanted to interject and offer up my arguments for WALL-E’s innate genius, but thought better and kept my opinions to myself.

carrots onions

Soup is, apparently, very similar in that it also draws polarized views. Last year I went to a party where, in conversation, a man told me he didn’t eat soup, period. He thought soup pointless – “all that much swimming about in liquid” – hot or cold he wasn’t having any. Not a problem – more for me, but such strong dislike of something so seemingly benign is a little funny. And while I can’t speak for all Russians, my family is a soup eating family, and in my mother’s kitchen, there is always some kind of soup lingering. So I make soup a lot, particularly this time of year. And I like making it almost as much as I like eating it.

Well, this soup I have for you here is a pureed soup. It is thick, velvety, and generously spiced. If you live in the Northeast, you know we’re in for some chilly weather, and you might want to have this on hand for the week if not for Thanksgiving itself, then for the weekend at the very least – it’ll warm you up in case you get cold. The backbone of this soup, the thing that gives it nice depth and dimension, comes from a good amount of onions which you then saute with garam masala. You let it all mix and meld together as the onions grow pale and soft before adding your squash and carrots. After a gentle simmer, the vegetables soften and fall apart, and this is when you will add your orange juice and cider. If you have oranges on hand, I can’t recommend using them over a premade orange juice – there’s a brightness to the freshly-squeezed stuff that is a little bit like sunshine in your bowl. A quick whir of an immersion blender and you wind up with this magnificent, fragrant, orange-colored soup. It’s one heck of a way to kick-start your Thanksgiving festivities – it sure makes a statement. The heat just kind of sneaks up on you and a few spoons in, you notice a warmth spreading in the back of your throat.

peeling butternut in pieces

But I think that this soup’s true beauty is that it’s also a quiet soup in many ways, fitting for those still, quiet moments. On the Friday following the feast, it’s the kind of soup you want to curl up with while sitting in a cozy armchair as you look out the window. The kind of soup that allows for the holiday to linger, but without the fanfare and frazzle of the previous day, and the kind that refuses to recognize that something called “Black Friday”. We all deserve a little bit of linger in our holiday. Happy Thanksgiving.

Spiced Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp garam masala
4 lbs butternut squash – about 2 medium squash
1 lb carrots
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 2 oranges
1 cup apple cider


Warm the butter, olive oil, onions and garam masala over low heat in a large stockpot. Cook for 20 minutes, until the onions are translucent and tender, stirring from time to time.

Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash and cut squash in half. Remove the seeds, and cut the squash into chunks. Peel and slice the carrots.

Add the squash, carrots, salt, pepper, and the vegetable stock to the pot. Bring everything to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 40 minutes until the vegetables are very soft. Using your immersion blender, puree the soup until it is creamy, thick, and smooth.

Add the orange juice and the apple cider and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately.

Serves 6-8


  • Angharad

    This is my kind of soup! I just made a sweet potato and carrot soup at the weekend and it warmed my cockles, that’s for sure. I can’t imagine hating soup! He must never have tried dunking huge, toasty, buttery slice of bread in it…

  • Radish

    Kamran – wish you lived closer, would have been more than happy to feed you both the frozen yogurt and the soup!

  • Gretchen

    I’m a soup lover too! I make soup for supper once a week when it starts getting cold out. I freeze the leftovers and then have delicious warm lunches all week long.

  • Christine

    Wait, there are people out there who don’t love Wall-E? WHA? Oh I could watch the first forty minutes (before we end up on the space craft) over and over again.

    We love soup around here, but I generally prefer a chunkier soup over creamier ones.

    Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

  • Meaghin

    This has now been added to my ‘make the day after Thanksgiving’ list :) Perfect for relaxing in front of the television (and avoiding Black Friday!)

  • Sue

    Three Yums Up on the soup. i love soup

    Wall-E is pointless and silly and that is what makes it so darn cute and fun. i love wall-e

  • Val

    I’m still confused by the notion that there are people out there who honestly don’t like soup! They have no idea what they are missing out on.

    I love the idea of giving butternut squash soup a slightly Indian vibe. I’m sure it works well with the creamy and rich flavours of the butternut squash.

  • Natalie

    How strong would ypu say the orange flavor is in this? I’d like to serve this but I know a few people who are citrus-picky if it’s dominant. But this sounds so goooood I want to try it.

  • Radish

    Martha Joy – kohlrabi and rutabaga are two different things, by the way, but instead of those, I would try parsnips. they have the same consistency as carrots and will work well in the soup.

  • Martha Joy

    You see, the Norwegian name is very similar to kohlrabi, but when I wikipedia’ed it, I found out that I was talking about rutabaga. Thank you for your suggestion, I can get parsnips here without problem :)

    I’m making most of this on Thursday, and then I’ll add the juice and cider on Friday, right before I serve it. Do you want a report on Saturday?

  • Martha Joy

    This soup was awesome! I had to trick a little to make it, but it turned out completely fantastic! I keep wanting to write everything with exclamation points ;)
    So, here’s what I did:

    Smashed spices until my mortar broke :( Black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves. Added chili, coriander, cumin and nutmeg. Mixed with butter, olive oil and onions.
    Peeled five small squash and six parsnips, cut and added to the mix, with half a litre of chicken bouillon. No stocks in my kitchen :( But I buy good bouillon cubes instead. Misread your recipe and added a whole tablespoon of salt (!). Simmered for half an hour, pulled pan off heat and left it for the day after.

    Food processed the mix from Thursday, heated it, added apple cider and orange juice and brought it to a very slow boil. Added some more salt (I know, yikes), some chili, cinnamon and cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon of honey. Served with bread and butter on the side, drank cider and white wine. Lots of oohs and aahs. Success!

  • Yvette

    I just made this soup this morning, and it tastes absolutely amazing. I followed your recipe exactly and there is nothing I would change. Thank you for sharing and I love your blog. Let the leaves begin to turn beautiful colours because this soup is the perfect comfort food for fall weather.

  • Radish

    Ellen – I didn’t get a cup yield, but we fed about 6 very hungry people. So it should serve 6 to 8. Hope that helps!

  • Samantha

    Making this right now ! excited to see if it turns out I cut the recipe in half because it was to big for just the 3 of us :)

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