I’m starting this blog post out with a budget tip for you: for date night, instead of going out for dinner, just go out for dessert! You still get the experience of going out, but only spend a few dollars. We love to do this at Panera, and get their Kitchen Sink cookie (ask them to warm it up for you!). We’ve even done this at Red Lobster. We got all seated and were served their delicious cheesy biscuits, only to order dessert. The waiter may not have loved the idea, but we thought it was genius.
Panera isn’t only good for it’s pastries, however, and we love their soups and salads. My husband asked me to make a healthier version of Panera’s Autumn Squash soup at home so he could enjoy larger quantities (he’s really into the quantity of food, in addition to quality 😉 ). While the original version has butter and heavy cream in it, this version does not. It does have the subtle flavors of pumpkin, butternut squash, curry, honey, and apple, just like the original.
Now you can enjoy Panera soup at home (a whole pot of it!) which is nutritious and low-cal, then go out to Panera for their Kitchen Sink cookie. Balance at it’s finest.
The problem with butternut squash anything is that you have to peel and cut the thing. If you’ve ever done that, you know it’s painfully hard. Butternut squash is not as soft as most vegetables, and it’s so hard to cut that I’ve sworn I won’t cut it again. To work around that, I’ve discovered a secret. Simply put the whole thing in a crock pot for 2-3 hours. Is scoops out like a breeze, and you didn’t have to practically sit on your knife to cut through any of it.
If you make this soup, please let me know in the comments! I’m excited to share this flavorful, warm autumn soup with you!
A lightened-up version of Panera's Autumn Squash soup, full of delicious fall flavors like pumpkin, squash, curry, and apple.
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 large onion
- 1 15 oz can pumpkin
- 1.5 cup apple juice (or one apple, peeled and cut, but your soup will be more brown)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1.25 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 3 tbls honey
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) optional
Place entire butternut squash in a crock pot and let cook on high about 2-3 hours, or until soft when pierced with a fork.
In a pot on the stove, saute onions and garlic in a small amount of water until soft. Add all the remaining ingredients except the coconut milk, including the butternut squash (scoop seeds out, then scoop squash into your soup pot).
Once heated through, blend the soup by using an immersion blender, or pour the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in coconut milk, reserving a small amount as a garnish, if desired. Season with salt and pepper (about 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper, to start).
Top with toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), a swirl of coconut milk, and fresh pepper. You can toast pepitas by placing them in a dry skillet and heating them on medium-high heat for a few minutes until they are puffed and make small popping sounds.