Chef John's Butternut Bisque


For a winter special occasion or just a weekday meal, this butternut squash soup recipe makes a perfect, warming starter course. The snipped chives and pomegranate garnishes add a festive touch, but you can also use crumbled bacon and a swirl of crème fraiche to top this bisque.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
50 mins


  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste, divided

  • 1 (2 pound) butternut squash

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 quart chicken broth

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  • ½ cup heavy cream or creme fraiche, plus more to garnish

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste

  • Chopped fresh chives for garnish

  • Pomegranate seeds for garnish


  1. Melt butter in a pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and a large pinch of salt. Cook and stir until onions have softened but not taken on any color, about 10 or 15 minutes.

  2. Cut off ends of squash. Carefully cut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler. Cut into chunks.

  3. Raise heat under the pot to medium-high. Stir in tomato paste; cook and stir until mixture begins to caramelize and turn brown, about 2 minutes. Add squash, chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until squash is very tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Blend with an immersion blender until very smooth. Stir in cream and maple syrup; add more salt if needed.

  4. Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with a swirl of cream, and a sprinkle of chives and pomegranate seeds.

    close up view of Butternut Bisque garnished with cream and green onions in a white bowl
    Chef John

Chef's Note:

If I'd intended this bisque to be a main course, I would probably have roasted the squash first. When you roast butternut squash, you caramelize and concentrate the flesh, and get something sweeter, starchier, and richer. That's perfect if you're enjoying it as a meal, but maybe not such a great thing if it's going to be followed by additional courses.

If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend the squash mixture in batches in a regular blender. Just be careful not to burn yourself.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

231 Calories
14g Fat
27g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 231
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 46mg 15%
Sodium 1059mg 46%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 35mg 176%
Calcium 100mg 8%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 660mg 14%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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