Instant pot butternut squash soup is a quick and easy appetizer. The high-pressure cooking tenderizes the tough vegetable in about half the time as roasting. The ingredients are pureed until silky smooth to deliver a hot and comforting dish.
No Instant-Pot? No problem! Try a similar stovetop method instead.
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If you’re looking for a hearty and healthy bowl of soup, dice up some butternut squash. The bright orange flesh is packed with nutrients and has a creamy and nutty texture. For this recipe, I use an electric pressure cooker to make preparation even more effortless than the stovetop method.
The Instant Pot allows you to saute the aromatics first to develop deeper flavors. The squash and apples pressure cook for just 10 minutes to make them incredibly tender. Puree the soup with some cream and warm spices, and you’ve got a comforting winter-inspired appetizer.
Cutting and peeling
First, trim the stem and bottom portions off. The skin is thick and inedible, so you’ll need to remove it. I find that using a Y-peeler down the length of the squash works best. Use a chef’s knife to separate the tapered portion from the broader base. Then cut the bottom in half and scoop out the seeds. I like to clean and dry them to make a healthy roasted snack. Now you can dice the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes.
Saute the aromatics
To add depth to the soup, I saute the onions and garlic in hot olive oil to lightly brown the surface. Make sure to saute the chopped thyme in the hot fat briefly. The oil will help diffuse the herb’s fat-soluble flavors, making the soup much better tasting. The diced squash also cooks for a few minutes before pressure cooking to add layers of flavor.
Pressure cook the soup
The large pieces of squash and green apples need to be softened to create a smooth texture. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes to completely transform the surface from hard to tender. For soups, I naturally release the pressure from the system but be careful. There’s hot vegetable stock in the pot, and you don’t want it spraying out of the valve if you use quick-release.
Puree the ingredients
To create a very smooth consistency, use an immersion blender to puree the ingredients together. It takes a few minutes, but it makes a considerable texture impact. I keep the blender perpendicular to the bottom of the pot and slowly move it around. This technique prevents the hot soup from kicking up and spraying out.
You can also use a countertop blender, however, work in batches to prevent overflow. If you like a thicker texture, you can press the saute setting and let the soup concentrate to the desired consistency.
Making a creamy texture
The starches in the butternut squash naturally provide a creamy texture. And when pureeing, the squash particles are suspended in the hot liquid, adding thickness. To make each spoonful even more velvety, add heavy cream. You can also substitute coconut milk for a dairy-free option.
Add ground cinnamon and nutmeg at the very end. When it hits the hot soup, there will be a burst of warm baked aromatics, the perfect complement to the winter squash. Adding it in when pressure cooking loses that potent volatile compounds, so it’s best to wait.
Some curry powder and turmeric are also lovely additions to the recipe for an earthy flavor. Garnish with chopped chives for a fresh onion taste, and walnuts add a wonderful crunch.
What to serve this with
Why you should add the cream last
Cooking butternut squash soup in the Instant Pot on high setting gets upwards of 11.6 psi, with an enclosed temperature of up to 244°F (118ºC). It’s best to stir in the cream once you remove the lid, and the temperature reduces slightly. Milk contains proteins that can thicken and curdle. The cream is around 36% fat and just below 3 grams of protein, which is still prone to curdling above 175ºF (79ºC).
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Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, ½-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 5 cups butternut squash, 1-inch cubes, about a 2 ½ pound squash
- 1 ½ cups diced granny smith apple, 1-inch cubes, or fuji apple
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups vegetable stock or broth
- ½ cup heavy cream, or unsweetened coconut milk
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon chives, sliced for garnish, optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped for garnish, optional
- Select "Saute" on a 6-quart Instant Pot and adjust to the “normal” setting. Allow the pot to heat. It will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready.
- Add olive oil, once hot add the onions and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and thyme, saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the diced butternut squash and saute for 3 minutes.
- Add the diced apple, salt, pepper, and vegetable stock, stir to combine. Press “Keep/ Warm/Cancel” on the Instant Pot.
- Make sure that the release valve is in the “Sealing” position. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, turn and lock.
- Press the “Manual” button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 10 minutes using the “+” or “-” controls. It will take about 8 to 10 minutes for the pot to heat and build up pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
- Once cook time is complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes.
- Use an oven mitt to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to the “Venting” position. The initial release will spray some moisture around the pot, so be careful. Remove the cover, opening the top away from you as steam will release from the pot.
- Use a hand immersion blender to puree the soup until just smooth, or transfer to a blender and puree.
- Add in the heavy cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stir to combine. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve garnished with a drizzle of heavy cream and chives.
- Recipe Yield: 7 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Storing: Cool the soup completely and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
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