5-Ingredient umami butternut squash soup recipe is all about achieving perfect harmony and balance. Not too sweet, but not too salty. Not too thick, but not too thin, either. So simple, yet just so balanced that your guests dream about just how perfectly satisfying this soup is. And we are going to do just that with this five ingredient umami squash soup recipe.
Okay, fine. 6-ingredient, if you include the Umami Salt.
Umami Means More Than Just Savory
As you may know, the word “umami” typically describes “the fifth taste” or the savory quality of foods. However, umami can mean much more than that.
It describes balance and harmony in food. No, not in-your-face savoriness, but a quality of feeling wholesome, satisfying, and well-rounded.
Umami is a feeling of satisfaction that every chef wants their guests to feel after enjoying their cooking.
Squash soup is the perfect medium for that. Can you think of a recipe that is as wholesome, satisfying, and well-rounded as squash soup on a cold fall day? I can’t. It is one of those dishes that every chef has their favorite recipe for achieving umami.
Umami Squash Soup Story Time
After serving squash soup at an event, one enthusiastic home cook exclaimed his use of cream cheese in his secret recipe, claiming it added an irreplaceable creaminess and tanginess. My mentor, a very traditional French chef, denounced this with an absolute look of horror on his face, claiming that crème fraîche was the only suitable dairy (besides butter, of course) to finish the soup.
Some people want their squash soup to be sweet. Others like it smoky and spicy (and topped with bacon). Some want it super creamy, others need it dairy-free. So, where does this 5-ingredient recipe lie?
In conclusion, this recipe tries to achieve true umami balance and harmony. Yes, it is simple and balanced, but not plain. Not too salty, not too sweet. The squash shines through as the primary flavor yet it goes really well with fresh herbs, spices, flavors, etc. added.
Best part: you can use any squash for this recipe– butternut squash, kabocha squash, acorn squash, you name it. You can even use sweet potatoes, which I find lend a really nice almost honey-like taste to the final product.
Your (Second) New Secret Ingredient
Your first secret ingredient is Umami Salt, obviously 😉 .
The second unexpected secret ingredient featured here is yellow miso paste.
Yellow miso paste is simultaneously sweet, savory, salty, and umami. You can find bags or squeeze tubes of it fresh in the refrigerated sections of Asian grocery stores and most regular grocery stores. It used to be way less common in Western cooking, but now it is seen in everything from adapted classic American BBQ meat marinades to French desserts.
Like I said, every chef has their own recipe and is partial to their own ingredients. I am no different— I tried adding miso paste to squash soup about 10 years ago, and have never looked back. Like Umami Salt, the miso paste doesn’t add any strong flavor of its own, but instead bolsters the existing flavors of the soup and just makes it taste like a normal bowl of squash soup, but better.
This soup is amazing by itself. However, it’s even better with any number of toppings or flavorings. You want topping and flavoring suggestions? Here’s just a quick list of ideas:
- Sage brown butter, sliced roasted chestnuts, and toasted squash seeds (pictured)
- Freshly chopped thyme, black pepper, cayenne, and a pinch of nutmeg
- Garam masala, topped with toasted black mustard seed and tempering spices
- Pomegranate seeds, roasted za’atar chickpeas, and yogurt
- Roasted red pepper, grilled corn, and fresh green onion
- Chipotle peppers, bacon, a squeeze of lime, and freshly chopped cilantro
5-Ingredient Umami Butternut Squash Soup
- Baking Sheets
- 1 Gallon Soup Pot
- 1 butternut squash 2-3 lb, halved, cleaned, and gutted
- 1 yellow onion large
- 1 tbsp yellow miso paste
- 1 cup heavy cream optional
- 1 quart vegetable stock low-sodium, plus more, if needed
- 1/2 tsp umami salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F. Place squash halves open-side-down on a baking sheet lined with parchment or aluminum foil. Place squash in oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
- While the squash is cooking, heat a 3 quart or larger sized pot on the stove over medium low heat. Add onions to pot and cook slowly, lowering the heat as necessary to avoid any significant browning. Cover after about 15 minutes of cooking, and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so. The onions should go from raw, to translucent, to finally falling apart and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together miso paste with a ¼ cup of vegetable broth, or until the miso paste is thin.
- When squash is ready, scoop the inside of the cooked squash from the skin and add to the pot. Add the vegetable broth, miso paste mixture, and umami salt. Immersion blend in the pot until smooth.
- Add more vegetable broth as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Add in heavy cream to “glide” the flavors together for a richer soup. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve as-is, or garnish as pictured with roasted pumpkinseed and shaved chestnuts.