This Copycat Panera Squash Soup tastes just like the original, but I made it a bit healthier!
Remember last week when I was talking about my homemade mild curry powder and I said I really truly made it for this soup? Well, here it is!
We were at a church event not too long ago and my pastor’s wife asked me if I had a squash soup recipe on my site. I said yes, I have three: A shortcut squash soup (ready in twenty minutes!), a creamy butternut squash soup with smoked paprika, and a really old post about squash soup with sage with terrible photos. But she was looking specifically for a copycat Panera squash soup.
I don’t blame her – it is delicious! It’s also not the greatest for you, calorie-wise, considering it’s squash soup…which most people may automatically assume is healthy.
I made efforts to reduce the calorie content a bit while still keeping the flavors rich and slightly indulgent. I think I found a good balance, but if you’re looking for an exact replica, feel free to add more butter, cream, and sugar. I won’t judge. Your skinny jeans might but we’re coming up to winter so it’s nothing a big comfy sweater can’t fix, right? RIGHT?
If you read the recipe closely, you’ll see this squash soup also contains carrots and pumpkin. They give it extra sweetness and depth of flavor. If you don’t have pumpkin or don’t want to add pumpkin, just use a little less vegetable broth. Remember you can always add more at the end to make it thinner but it’s more difficult to make it thicker.
I’d recommend using carrots with the squash because they really do add great natural sweetness, and they help achieve the beautiful color of the soup. Plus, Panera squash soup also has carrots in it.
I garnished my Copycat Panera Squash Soup recipe with roasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds). Their crunch and color add a nice contrast, don’t you think? You could also garnish it with chopped, fresh herbs like sage or parsley, or homemade croutons.
Important note: This soup calls for two cups of apple cider, NOT APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. If you can’t find apple cider (sometimes it’s hard to find if it’s not fall), use a natural (100% juice) apple juice. If you use vinegar by accident, your soup will NOT turn out and will definitely NOT taste like Panera’s.
PS: This isn’t my first rodeo with making a Panera copycat – make sure to check out my Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese! People LOVE it!
PS: Love butternut squash? Check out my full how to cook butternut squash guide!
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 pounds chopped butternut squash (about 6 heaping cups)
- 3 small carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3-4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups apple cider or apple juice (do NOT use apple cider vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- dash of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces low-fat (neufchatel) cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, more to taste
- salt to taste
- heavy cream, optional
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, stirring frequently.
- Add squash, carrots, vegetable broth, apple cider, and spices.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until squash and carrots are soft. Remove from heat and add pumpkin puree, butter, cream cheese and brown sugar. Puree with a hand (stick) blender or in batches in a normal blender. Blend until very smooth.
- Taste soup and add salt as desired. You may also add extra brown sugar or honey to achieve a taste closer that of Panera’s. You can also add a little heavy cream if you want a more decadent soup. If desired, add more vegetable broth to thin soup.
- Return to burner over medium-low heat, if needed to heat the soup back up, and then serve immediately.
- If you want it to be just like Panera squash soup – add more brown sugar and/or honey to taste. Adding more cream will also give it a richer flavor.
- This soup calls for two cups of apple cider, NOT APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. If you can’t find apple cider (sometimes it’s hard to find if it’s not fall), use a natural (100% juice) apple juice. If you use vinegar by accident, your soup will NOT turn out and will definitely NOT taste like Panera’s.
- To reduce sodium, use low sodium or no salt added vegetable broth.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
Husband’s take: He never tried this. Squash soup isn’t really his thing.
Changes I would make: None are necessary.