The Best Butternut Squash Soup We’ve Ever Had

On our recent visit to Big Sur and Carmel Valley, we were delighted to sit down to our first course at Carmel Valley Ranch’s cozy as can be Valley Kitchen and experience this cup of absolute perfection.

We made no secret of our obsession with this savory-sweet winter soup to Chef Tim Wood and he kindly sent along the homey recipe for us and our readers! The secret to this simple, warming wonder? Apparently, two cups of grass-fed butter.

We’re big fans of the old-fashioned, good for you stuff (read here, here and here) and so our shock at the two cups of golden goodness quickly wore down into plans to make the soup with salad for the weekend. Here is the recipe –all yellow onions and maple syrup. Get to work and whip this up for the ones you love!

When on the Central Coast, be sure to visit the Ranch for clean eats like this one and a gorgeous dining experience you won’t soon forget.

The Best Butternut Squash Soup We’ve Ever Had
Recipe courtesy Chef Wood of Carmel Valley Ranch


1 large butternut squash (2 lbs)
1 Large yellow onion
1/2 cup pure maple syrup 
2 cups grass-fed butter
kosher salt and pepper (to season)
olive oil for cooking as needed about 1/2 cup

Equipment Needed:

heavy-bottomed 2 quart stock pot 
high speed blender, such as Vitamix 
baking sheet


This recipe is truly as simple as it looks. The key techniques are the product and the sweating of the onions. The pot should be large enough to hold the squash and onion, a 2 quart sauce pot should do. Pan must have a heavy or thick bottom to allow for even cooking. 

Begin by carefully cutting the fresh butternut squash from top to bottom (basically split from the stem to the root) in half. A trick is to use a serrated bread knife so that you can saw the squash, as it can be dangerous and awkward. 

Clean out the seeds with a spoon, they can be toasted later as you would pumpkin seeds for a nice garnish. Then lay the squash halves, cavity side up, on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Place one tablespoon of butter in the “natural cups” and drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until tender and caramelized. All ovens are different, as is the sizing of the squash. This step can take as long as 40-50 minutes. 

Next, cut the onion in half from tip to root and remove outer skin. Slice the onion with a radial motion from top to bottom to keep consistent sizing. Ultimately you will end up with 1/4 inch onion slices. 

In a heavy bottomed pot, start to slowly cook the onions with a good amount of olive oil, about 1/4 cup. Cook slow as to allow the bitter onion taste to sweat out and become sweet, about 25 min. Season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

This is always a good time to put together a salad or other part of your meal but don’t wander too far off, as it could burn and make the soup bitter. 

After the onions have become soft and tender and the squash has roasted until tender, take the flesh from the squash and add it to the onions. Then cover the onion squash mixture with enough water or vegetable stock to cover by about 1.5 inches. Cook for an additional 20 minutes on a slow simmer. 

Ready your blender and cut remaining sweet butter into small, manageable chunks. With a slotted spoon take the solids of the squash from the pot and add to the blender in batches (about half way up the blender) then add enough of the liquid from the pot to thin the mixture to the desired consistency. Add about 3 tablespoons of butter per batch for a texture that is rich and smooth. Repeat this process until all solids are blended. There may be some of the stock left or it may be necessary to add some to thin as you go. You can always thin your soup down, but it’s hard to thicken if you add too much liquid.

To garnish add croutons or roasted squash seeds. Recipe should yield approximately 6-8 six ounce bowls depending on the size of the squash. Simply, double the recipe for a larger yield.

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