Is there anything more perfect than soup on days when there is a chill in the air? And when I say that I mean homemade, from scratch soup, of course. And nothing says hello cold weather better than a warming bowl of this Panera autumn squash soup (copycat recipe). Just like the one you buy, but healthier, and homemade.
This is a seasonal favorite for me, and one that I really couldn't wait to learn how recreate at home. I pretty much love all Panera soups but a few I love so much that I learn to make them at home, like this autumn squash soup and the summer corn chowder.
And while going to Panera is not something I usually say no to, I know that making homemade, from scratch soup with fresh ingredients is not only just as delicious, but so much better for me. I will always take a good from scratch recipe.
This copycat recipe for Panera autumn squash soup comes together with a simple ingredients.
- Butternut squash. This gets roasted in the oven, spooned out and added to the soup before pureeing.
- Vegetable stock. Yeah this is a vegetarian recipe. But you can totally use chicken stock if it is what you have on hand.
- Fennel bulb - shaved. When cooked down and caramelized, fennel becomes sweet and extra delicious.
- Apple. Also for a little sweetness. Grate it right into the soup before pureeing.
- Heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- A touch of nutmeg for that extra autumn warm spice oomph
- Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
- Croutons. It is after all a Panera copy cat recipe and Panera is all about the bread
How to make squash soup
I wish I could stress to everyone on earth how easy homemade soup from scratch really is to make yourself.
For this Panera autumn squash soup copycat recipe you simply roast your squash in the oven until soft and then scoop it out. While the squash is roasting throw some butter in a soup pot or dutch oven and add the shaved fennel, sauteeing until it starts to caramelize. Add your shallots to the fennel and cook a few more minutes to soften.
Deglaze the pot with vermouth, then add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the grated apple and cook a bit. Add the scooped out squash and either using an immersion blender, or a regular blender, puree the whole thing. Return it to the pot and simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors together.
I mean, it really doesn't get any easier.
If there is one thing, I always say about cooking (and sometimes with baking), is that a recipe is just a loose idea for you to follow. And that means ADAPT it! Mix it up! Add things you love or have to make it more interesting. Some ideas for adapting this Panera autumn squash soup...
- Skip the fennel if you don't have it or can't find or simply don't feel like making a trip to the store. You can use a little extra apple instead for some sweetness, or even a carrot which also will add sweetness.
- Mix up your garnishes. I used pepitas and croutons, you can use roasted or caramelized squash diced up, a parmesan crisp, hell, be a true Panera soup lover and serve these in a bread bowl
- Add different herbs - sage on top would go awesome with this
The best tip I can give you to make this a true Panera autumn squash soup copycat recipe from scratch is to puree this really well. Panera's version is velvety smooth, basically a bisque, so be sure to bust out that immersion blender or regular blender (or even a food processor, and puree until totally smooth.
- Immersion blender or regular blender
For the soup
- 4 pounds butternut and acorn squash seeded and halved or quartered
- 1 tablespoon butter melted, to brush on the squash
- salt and pepper for squash roasting and seasoning the soup
- 3 cups vegetable broth you could also use chicken broth if you don't have vegetable broth
- ¼ cup shallots diced
- 1 fennel bulb very thinly sliced (as close to shaved as you can)
- 1 apple grated, I used granny smith, but you can use any apple
- ¼ cup vermouth
- 1 fresh thyme
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ cup pepitas lightly toasted
- ½ cup croutons homemade toasted bread
- Preheat the oven to 425 and place the butternut squash on the pan and brush each half with just enough melted butter to lightly coat the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through and totally soft, about 50 minutes, then let it cool enough to handle it. Scoop all the flesh out of both squashes into a bowl.
- In a dutch over or whatever you use for a soup pot, melt two tablespoons of butter with a touch of olive oil, add the shallots, fennel and thyme sprig with a little bit of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot and fennel has softened and is starting to caramelize - this takes about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it, stirring quite a bit and don't turn the flame too high - you'll burn them. The end product should be super golden browned and super soft and smell sweet. When caramelized, add the grated apple and stir to blend into the mixture. Turn heat up on stove and add your vermouth and reduce until it is nearly gone.
- Add your stock to the pot and your scooped out squash and stir to combine.
- Get out your blender, regular or immersion. If using a regular blender, transfer the soup to the blender
- IMPORTANT: Make sure not to fill the blender or processor past the maximum fill line (you can work in batches if necessary, and stir in any remaining broth later).
- Blend or pulse until the mixture it totally smooth and velvety. Pour soup back into soup pot and heat on low to rewarm, add the cream, pinch of nutmeg and adjust your salt and pepper seasoning to your liking.