Butternut squash soup with chicken is a one-pot recipe packed with lean protein, savory Italian sausage, tender butternut squash, kale, and white beans for a healthy meal.
Butternut squash soup is a comforting fall recipe. The balance of protein from lean chicken and sausage, with tender squash, fiber-rich beans and plenty of leafy green kale makes this a complete meal.
I started making this hearty soup a few years ago after my son James was born. I was in need of an easy to prepare and nourishing meal after long nights with our newborn and the grueling days back at the office. To maximize my time, a big pot of chicken butternut squash soup was the answer. This recipe makes plenty of leftovers for the next day too.
When fall and winter vegetables are in season, butternut squash is a perfect addition to the soup. In California we have squash available year round, so the opportunity to make this recipe is not limited.
How to cook butternut squash soup
Here are some key tips for preparing butternut squash soup:
- Preparing: Butternut squash is from the species C. moschata. It has a thick hard outer skin, with vitamin and mineral rich orange flesh and seeds. The most challenging thing about cooking with this pear-shaped vegetable is peeling and cutting the butternut squash. I start with cutting off both ends. Then cut off the skinny part of the neck, followed by a cut through the center of the widest part to reveal the seeds. Many people roast the seeds and eat them. Once the seeds are removed, a vegetable peeler or chef’s knife is used to remove the tough skin. From there just chop into smaller cubes.
- Cooking: The squash can be steamed, roasted, sautéed or simmered. For this recipe, the squash is sautéed first to promote new flavor and colors through the Maillard browning reaction, and then submerged and simmered in broth to tenderize the vegetables.
Tender and moist pieces of poached shredded chicken add extra protein to the soup. A generous amount of chopped kale adds nutrients and fiber. The firm leafy texture becomes softens when simmered in the soup. A few pieces of Italian sausage add a nice savory and spiced flavor to the soup base, making each bowl even more enticing.
For a creamier soup, I take a portion of the cannelloni beans and butternut squash then purée them together in my Vitamix blender. This additional step thickens the soup, so it feels more filling.
Butternut squash soup with chicken and veggies makes for a comforting meal after a long day. It soothes you from the inside like a hug, making you feel all warm and cozy. The soup tastes even better the next day. I’ll be packing some for lunch! If you are looking for more quick and healthy butternut squash recipes, try my maple roasted butternut squash tacos or rustic Italian butternut squash soup.
What is the Poaching method for cooking chicken?
Poaching is a very gentle wet cooking method that slowly cooks a protein like chicken at low temperatures (170 to 180°F). The chicken is submerged with at least 1-inch of water, heated to barely a simmer, and cook until the center of the breast reaches 160°F. Poaching allows the chicken to be cooked through while still keeping the meat moist and tender. This method works well for leaner and more tender cuts of meat or fish that do not have a tougher connective tissue. The cooking liquid can be flavored with stock, herbs, and seasoning if desired to infuse more flavors.
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cloves garlic , thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup yellow onion , 1/4-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 fresh Italian sausage , (about 6 3/4 ounces)
- 3 cups butternut squash , cut into ½ inch cubes
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt , more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper , more as needed
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 15 ounces cannellini beans , canned
- 4 cups kale , ribs removed, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- Place chicken in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 1-inch.
- Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat where bubbles start forming around the edge of the pot. Reduce to medium-low to keep the temperature constant, about 170 to 180°F.
- Cook until chicken is cooked, 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 18 minutes.
- Transfer chicken to a heatproof bowl and strain the liquid over the chicken and let the chicken breasts cool. Once cool, shred chicken and reserve. Meanwhile, clean the pot and make the soup.
- In the same large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, stirring and cooking until onions are tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Add sausage and break into smaller pieces while cooking until no longer pink, 4 minutes. Add cubed butternut squash to the pot, stir, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and chicken stock to the pot. Bring liquid to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook until butternut squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the rosemary and thyme from the pot and discard. Add cannellini beans, shredded chicken and kale to the pot, stir to combine and cook until kale is tender and bright green, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Taste soup, season with more salt and pepper as desired.