leek and butternut squash soup

slow cooker butternut squash soup

Butternut squash soup can too often be bland or overly sweetened with sugar or maple syrup. This leek and butternut squash soup is both simple and nuanced. The ingredients are straightforward; hearty vegetables, plenty of alliums for flavor, and a dash of nutmeg and cayenne pepper for heat. You’ll spend a few minutes sautéing a blend of leeks, onions and garlic. Then you’ll toss in some carrots and celery for a soup base that adds tons of flavor. This base is simmered with butternut squash and chicken broth for a creamy soup that requires very little effort.

slow cooker butternut squash soup

Wanting to introduce more vegetables to our Thanksgiving table, I developed this recipe last week as a pre-dinner appetizer. I wanted something warm and light as a prelude to an unctuous holiday meal. Briefly sautéing the vegetables before simmering them with butternut squash coaxed out lots of flavor. You can even simmer the squash and alliums in a slow cooker, freeing up stovetop space if you need it.

I served the soup with pumpkin seeds, crumbled crisped bacon, and yogurt. Everyone served themselves from a decorative soup tureen and garnished their own bowl to taste. The leek and butternut squash soup was a big hit and it’s become my go-to recipe ever since! I hope you like this recipe as much as my family does.

If you’re hungry for more winter soups, check out these recipes:

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slow cooker butternut squash soup

leek and butternut squash soup

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  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos


Units Scale
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed thoroughly
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 stalks fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth (homemade or low-sodium storebought)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (start with 1/4 and add more if you want more heat)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Optional toppings:

  • fresh chives, thinly sliced
  • Crispy bits of bacon
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Creme fraiche or yogurt


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. 
  2. Add the onion, leeks and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook over medium low heat until the onions are translucent and starting to lightly brown, 5-7 minutes. 
  3. Add the carrots and celery to the pot. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and thyme, cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the butternut squash, broth, water and bay leaves to the pot. 
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low. Let the soup simmer, uncovered, until the butternut squash is very soft and easy to pierce with a fork, 30-40minutes. 
  7. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and drop the chunks of butter into the soup. 
  8. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it’s completely smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, ladle the soup into a blender (in batches) until completely smooth. If using a blender, pour the soup back into the pot.
  9. Add the apple cider vinegar, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon kosher salt into the soup.
  10. Taste the soup and add more salt to suit your palette (I use 1 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt in addition to the salt I used with the onions). The amount of salt you use will depend on how salty your broth was.
  11. I like the soup to be thick and smooth so I don’t add any more liquid. However, if you prefer a thinner soup, add a little bit of water or broth (¼ cup at a time) until you reach the consistency you like.
  12. Garnish with the suggested toppings, serve hot.
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