As soon as the chilly weather sets in, it's soup season in my house, and I'm always on the lookout for a hearty soup to warm up with on a cold day. This chicken butternut squash soup recipe is perfect for just that.
This creamy soup is an easy way to satisfy any soup cravings and it's chock-full of flavor from the sweet squash, crispy bacon, and spicy red pepper flakes. And while it's hearty enough to be your whole meal, you can also serve it alongside a savory vegetable galette or gluten free cornbread.
The next time you're looking for a healthy, comforting soup turn to this simple soup that is sure to warm you up on a cold night.
If you're looking for more chicken soups to try check my copycat Chili's southwest chicken soup, this awesome creamy (dairy free) white chicken chili or fan favorite chicken and rice soup which is perfect for a cool day.
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Why You’ll Love Chicken Butternut Squash Soup
- Packed with Flavor - The nutty and sweet squash pairs perfectly with the salty, crispy bacon, and the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes add layers of flavor.
- Full of Nutrients - Cannellini beans and chicken are both great sources of protein while the butternut squash has lots of fiber and Vitamin C.
- Simple - This hearty soup comes together quickly and it only takes one pot (and a couple of bowls) to make it, so cleanup is a breeze.
- Thick Cut Bacon - Slice the bacon into even ½ inch pieces before frying on the stovetop. Be sure to reserve a bit of the bacon to use as garnish. If you're following a gluten free diet, make sure to buy a gluten free bacon - I like Boar's Head or Applegate Farms brands.
- Yellow Onion - You can also use any variety of onion that you like or have on hand. Be sure to dice them evenly before cooking.
- Celery - Dice the celery into small pieces. It’s easiest to first slice the stalk lengthwise, then dice both halves simultaneously.
- Garlic - Mince the garlic cloves yourself or use the jarred garlic from the grocery store.
- Salt - Salt brings out the flavor of the sweet butternut squash as well as the thyme and spices.
- Red Pepper Flakes - Red pepper flakes add a touch of spiciness.
- Thyme - Thyme adds herbal, earthy flavor.
- Black Pepper - Pepper adds subtle spice to the soup.
- Butternut Squash - The butternut squash helps to make up the base of the soup and adds creamy texture once pureed with beans.
- Chicken Broth - Chicken broth also makes up the foundation of the soup. You can make homemade stock or buy it at the store. If you're following a gluten free diet, ensure you buy gluten free chicken broth. My favorite brand is Pacific Foods.
- Cooked Chicken - You can roast the chicken, use a rotisserie chicken, or use any leftover chicken you may have.
- Cannellini Beans - Drain the beans if you are using a canned version. Bush's brand beans are gluten free.
- Spinach - Roughly chop the spinach so that it is easy to eat in the soup. You can also replace this with kale if you prefer.
- Non-Dairy Cream - This ingredient will help the soup to be thick and creamy, along with the bean and squash puree. If you're not dairy free, use heavy cream in the same measure.
- Roasted Pepitas - This optional garnish provides the perfect crunch to top your bowl of soup.
See recipe card for full ingredient list and quantities.
Substitutions & Variations
- Not Dairy Free - Use heavy cream in place of the non-dairy cream in the same measure.
- Make it Vegan - Omit the bacon and use 2 tablespoons of oil to saute the vegetables. Replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth and replace the chicken with vegan chicken pieces or omit.
- Heat - To add more spicy flavor to the soup, increase the crushed red pepper, add cayenne pepper or chipotle peppers, or pour in a little hot sauce.
- Veggies - Add any veggies you have on hand or swap the spinach out for kale. Diced red bell pepper is a great addition and so are sweet potatoes.
- Herbs - Add other herbs like fresh rosemary or basil.
- Brightness - Add a touch of citrusy flavor and brighten up the soup by adding lemon juice or lime juice at the end of cooking.
- Oil - If you don't have bacon on hand, you can use oil to cook the onions and celery. Any neutrally flavored oil will work - try olive oil, avocado oil, or vegetable oil.
- Broth - Instead of chicken stock or broth, use vegetable broth.
How to Make Chicken Butternut Squash Soup
STEP 1: In a large Dutch oven, or large soup pot, cook the sliced bacon until crispy. Once cooked, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease and return the pot to the stove.
STEP 2: Cook the onions and celery in the reserved bacon grease until softened, about 5 minutes.
STEP 3: Add the minced garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, thyme, and black pepper to the vegetables. Cook for 1 minute more stirring constantly.
STEP 4: Add the squash and chicken broth to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the squash is soft enough to pierce with a fork.
STEP 5: Pour ½ can of cannellini beans in a small bowl. Add 1 cup of the cooked squash. Use a fork to mash it to a pulp (like mashed potatoes).
STEP 6: Add the remaining beans, the chicken, bacon (reserve some for garnish) and the mashed squash to the pot. Stir and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes.
STEP 7: Add the spinach to the soup and cook for about 3 minutes more until it's wilted.
STEP 8: Remove the pot from heat and stir in the cream.
Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
You can also freeze leftover soup. I love making individual portions in my souper cubes. Transfer the blocks of soup to a freezer bag and store for 2-3 months.
The peel is technically edible, but I always peel my squash.
The easiest way to thicken it without added ingredients is to puree the squash with beans. However, you can also use a gluten free flour or cornstarch slurry to thicken it as well.
Butternut squash soup is full of nutrients like Vitamin C and E and has lots of antioxidants. It’s also full of fiber, so it’s great for your digestive system.
More soup recipes to consider:
If you try this recipe, please leave a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the comments below.
Creamy Chicken Butternut Squash Soup
- 4 slices Thick Cut Bacon cut into ½” pieces
- 1 Cup Yellow Onion diced (about 1 medium onion)
- ½ Cup Celery diced (1-2 stalks)
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- ½ teaspoon Thyme
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 5 Cups Butternut Squash cut into cubes
- 4 Cups Gluten Free Chicken Broth
- 4 Cups Cooked Chicken
- 2 cans Cannellini Beans 15 ounce cans, drained
- 3 Cups Spinach roughly chopped
- ½ Cup Non-Dairy Cream
- Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large dutch oven.4 slices Thick Cut Bacon
- Once the bacon is crispy, remove it to a paper towel lined plate. Drain the fat, reserving 2 tablespoons.
- Add the onions and celery to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened.1 Cup Yellow Onion, ½ Cup Celery
- Add the garlic, salt, red pepper, thyme and black pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.3 cloves Garlic, 1 teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes, ½ teaspoon Thyme, ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Add the squash to the pot and pour in the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the temperature to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the squash is soft enough to be pierced with a fork.5 Cups Butternut Squash, 4 Cups Gluten Free Chicken Broth
- While the soup is cooking, open one can of beans and add half of the can to a bowl. Once the squash is cooked through, add about 1 cup of squash to the same bowl. Use a fork or an immersion blender to puree the beans & squash.2 cans Cannellini Beans
- Remove the lid. Add the bacon pieces, chicken, and the remaining beans. Stir in the bean puree. Return to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes more.4 Cups Cooked Chicken
- Add the spinach and cook for 3 more minutes.3 Cups Spinach
- Remove from heat. Pour in the cream and stir well.½ Cup Non-Dairy Cream
- Serve immediately, garnish with additional bacon pieces and roasted pepitas.
Tiffany is the recipe developer, stylist and food photographer behind Well Fed Baker. As a lifelong baker who had to go gluten free and dairy free in 2016, Tiffany strives to share allergen friendly recipes that never feel like they are free from anything.