vegan butternut squash soup

Easy Instant Pot Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

This comforting, vibrant vegan butternut squash soup is creamy and flavorful without any dairy or butter.  It would be the perfect healthy addition for Thanksgiving dinner or any fall-time gathering.  Everyone loves the velvety, silky-smooth texture and slightly sweet and nutty taste of butternut squash soup.

This recipe includes instructions for your stove top, slow cooker and Instant Pot.  For me, the Instant Pot is my top choice and I’ll talk about why in this post.  But feel free to use whatever method works best for you.  I have tried them all and love them all equally taste-wise.

I have done three things to make this recipe beyond easy:

  1. I cook the soup in my Instant Pot (a super quick, one-pot method with minimal hands-on time and automatic warmer which makes serving easy).
  2. I use frozen pre-cubed butternut squash instead of whole butternut squash that has to be peeled, seeded and chopped.
  3. I use my immersion blender to puree instead of transferring to a blender.

Before I talk more about these three items and why this is the easiest soup recipe ever, I want to first talk about my love for butternut squash.  It is seasonal, flavorful and loaded with nutritional benefits.  It is a good source of fiber, potassium and magnesium; an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamins A and C; and it contains phytochemicals (natural plant chemicals) that support vision, heart and gastrointestinal health.  Butternut squash is also known to boost your immune system and lower your risk of some cancers.  I love its buttery texture when pureed in soup and the slightly sweet and slightly nutty flavor it lends to dishes.

top down image of the creamy butternut squash soup

How to make the easiest Instant Pot vegan butternut squash soup?

Now, back to why I am loving this simple recipe in the Instant Pot.  I have always been a stove top girl.  But my mom gave me an Instant Pot (this links to the model I own) a couple months ago and I have fallen in love with it because it makes my life so much easier. 

Since baby David came along three months ago I have been using it even more often.  It is so nice to throw everything in one pot, press a button and forget about it until it is ready.  I can move on to other things and I’m not attached to the stove.  You can even leave the house and run errands, and in this hectic time of year that is a huge bonus.  And, when entertaining I love that it is one less thing that relies on the stove or oven.  It makes hosting more efficient when using different appliances as you prepare each dish.

The Instant Pot has gotten a lot of buzz lately on social media.  It is a pressure cooker, rice cooker and slow cooker all in one.  The pressure cooking features allow it to cook everything much faster than both the slow cooker and the stove top making it a huge timesaver.  For example, this soup would normally take 30-40 minutes on the stove top to fully cook the butternut squash through.  In the Instant Pot it takes just 7 minutes.  Everything cooks evenly and you don’t have to worry about anything burning.  While you do have to allow time for the Instant Pot to “come to pressure” you don’t have to be physically there for it.

The other nice feature is that it automatically keeps whatever you are cooking perfectly warmed after it is finished cooking, so if you make it a couple hours before serving you can just leave it until you are ready.  No reheating needed.  And no need to time everything perfectly (that can be super stressful especially when hosting).  I serve the soup directly from the Instant Pot.  Then the only thing I have to clean is the removable bowl of the Instant Pot which makes clean-up quick and easy.  It has really been a total life saver with having three kids under age five.  I cook everything in it: soups, stews, rice, beans, steel cut oats, sweet potatoes or any vegetable that typically takes a long time to cook.

With this recipe, I use frozen butternut squash.  You can certainly use fresh but I have been using frozen for two reasons:

  1. I don’t have time to roast butternut squash anymore (although back when I did have that kind of time I blogged about this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup recipe).  Peeling, removing the seeds and cubing the butternut squash when raw is so time consuming and difficult.  I like that with frozen it is pre-cubed and ready to toss into your soup.
  2. Whenever I buy pre-cut butternut squash at the store it goes bad so quickly.  Unless I use it within 24 hours it gets slimy and starts to smell funky.  With frozen you can keep it in your freezer so it won’t go bad and is always perfectly fresh and ready to use whenever you are in the mood for butternut squash soup.

I either buy it from the frozen section of the grocery store or I buy fresh and throw in the freezer.  I use four frozen bags (10 ounces each) in this recipe.  The other nice thing about frozen is it is pre-portioned so your recipe can be consistent each time.  With fresh you don’t always know how much squash meat you are getting.  And, the frozen bags have tiny cubes that cook faster than the large chunks of fresh pre-cut butternut squash.  With the frozen butternut squash in the Instant Pot it cooks on the soup setting in seven minutes.  If you use fresh you could probably reduce the cooking time even more.

The Instant Pot has a “saute” feature so you can saute your onions and garlic in the same pot (again, less mess this way).  I also have had great success blending the soup with an immersion blender as opposed to pureeing in batches in my blender.  My immersion blender works great and leaves no chunks. I think part of the reason the immersion blender works so well with this soup is because everything is so tender after cooking in the Instant Pot.  The immersion blender doesn’t have to work that hard.

My immersion blender is a Waring Professional Immersion Blender and is 15 inches long (with a 6 inch blade).  It is a couple years old and when I searched for it online I could not find the exact model.  I found this one which looks similar and like good quality with good reviews (but I have not used this one myself).  I use my immersion blender all the time and love that it is easy to clean.

I prefer a more brothy soup than most as I don’t like when butternut squash soup tastes like baby food puree.  However, if you prefer a thicker soup you can reduce the amount of broth by one to two cups.  And, if you find in the end you want to thin it out you can always blend in more broth.  This recipe is intended for a crowd and serves 10.  I always make this amount even when it is just for my family because they gobble it up and typically eat more than one serving.  And, I like having the leftovers.  It freezes well too (just remember to leave room in your container for the soup to expand).  I figure as long as I’m going through the effort of making soup, I might as well make a large batch and enjoy it for awhile.  However, you can certainly cut this recipe in half to make a smaller batch.

side shot of the butternut soup with a golden spoon

As I said at the start of this post, you can use whatever method you prefer and I have included all options below.  If you have any questions please leave a comment below and I will reply.  I hope you find this soup as cozy, delicious and easy as I do.  For me, it is one of those go-to recipes that keeps life simple.  This soup has consistently gotten rave reviews every time I serve it and everyone asks me for the recipe.  Even non-vegans.

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and refined sugar-free.  If you give this soup a try, please snap a pic and tag #eatingbyelaine and @eatingbyelaine on InstagramTwitter or Facebook so I can see you enjoying your creations.  I’d love to know which cooking method you used and if you tried out the frozen butternut squash and an immersion blender.

Other delicious recipes to try out!