Homemade soup has so much more flavor than the store-bought kind, not to mention nutrition. If you make yourself a big batch, it’s also way less expensive in the long run.
Butternut squash soup is perfect to batch cook because the squash themselves can be quite large and, once you start, you may as well cook up a lot!
The problem is, once you have enough soup to feed an army, you have to figure out how to store it so that you don’t have to eat it all in the next week. Canning can be the perfect solution.
You’ll need a pressure cooker to can butternut squash soup safely, but if you follow a few simple guidelines, it’s an easy process.
Is It Safe to Can Homemade Soup?
A lot of people can their own fruits and tomatoes using either a boiling water bath or the less ideal upside-down jar method, but these are not safe options for soup.
Soup is a low-acid food that should only ever be canned using a pressure canner. You need to make sure the temperature gets high enough to kill bacteria before you close everything up for long-term storage.
How long-term? Ideally you should eat your canned soup within a year to maintain the nutritional value. Theoretically, if your jars are sealed properly, the soup will last indefinitely, but it’s best not to push your luck.
Label all your jars with the dates canned and rotate the oldest jars to the front of the line if you can more later on.
Steps to Canning Butternut Squash Soup
The first thing you need to know about canning butternut squash soup is that you shouldn’t puree or mash the squash before canning. If you prefer your soup to be a thick, smooth creamy consistency instead of a chunky, brothy mouthful, puree it when you’re ready to eat it or freeze it instead.
Because squash has such a small amount of natural acid, it makes a perfect breeding ground for bacteria that can cause serious illness. If you puree your squash you create a greater surface area exposed to the air and therefore bacteria, increasing your risks exponentially.
Instead, to prep your squash, wash it thoroughly, remove the seeds, and cut it into 1-inch slices. It’s easier to peel like this, but you’ll do that next. Once it’s peeled, cut the slices into 1-inch cubes and give them a quick 2 minute par boil.
You can add any other ingredients that you’d like, but you must make sure that everything in your recipe is safe for canning. If you want to use any beans or peas, you should cook them before canning.
If you want your soup to have noodles, rice or any dairy, you’ll have to add these when you’re ready to serve the soup as they cannot be canned safely.
Once you have all your ingredients, combine everything in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. You don’t want to cook your soup completely, as then it will be mushy when you reheat it.
After 5 minutes, remove it from the heat and start to fill your jars about halfway with solid ingredients and then top up with the liquid. Always leave 1-inch of space at the top.
If you end up with not enough liquid to go around, you can warm up some chicken or vegetable broth separately and use that to top up the remainder of your jars.
At this point you’re ready to place your lids on and process them using the instructions on your pressure canner. Typically, pints require 60 minutes and quarts 75 minutes.
How NOT to Can Homemade Butternut Squash Soup
Everyone loves a great kitchen hack and there are rumors that you can fill sterilized jars with hot soup, put the lids on and then turn them upside down to let them seal themselves. DO NOT DO THIS.
The seal will not be effective enough to protect against botulism and butternut squash soup is particularly susceptible to contamination. It’s not worth the risk. The only safe way to can soups is with a pressure canner.
How to Heat & Serve Canned Butternut Squash Soup
The best thing about butternut squash soup is that it’s delicious almost any way you serve it. Leave it chunky out of the jar or take the time to puree it after opening. You can add milk or cream, fresh herbs or anything else that strikes your fancy when you’re ready to chow down.
If you want to add noodles or rice, just cook them separately and add to the soup before you warm it up. Every can has the potential to be a completely new show-stopping centerpiece to your next meal.
A microwave is a quick and easy way to heat up your soup. All you have to do is transfer your soup into a microwave-safe container and, ideally, cover with a splatter guard so that you don’t get soup all over the inside of your microwave.
It doesn’t take long to warm up, but it will depend on how much you warm up at a time. If you’re warming up a family-sized portion, start with 1-minute bursts and stir in between to distribute the heat evenly. Stop when you’re happy with the temperature and texture.
If you are warming up a single serving, start with 30-45 seconds because it will heat up a lot quicker and it’s best not to risk overcooking your soup.
Cooking your canned soup on the stovetop takes a few minutes longer than the microwave, but it’s just as easy. Pour your soup into a pot, put a lid on and warm it on low-medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and check your veggies for readiness. If you’ve pureed your squash it won’t even take that long.
Using an Instant Pot is usually the quickest and easiest way to cook almost anything. Empty your canned soup into the pot, use the pressure cooker setting, and set it for 5 minutes. If you’re going to add any dairy or puree the soup, do so after it’s cooked.
Just as easy as an Instant Pot, but a slower cooking solution is to use a crock pot. Before you head to work, just empty a jar into your slow cooker and let it simmer on low all day, soaking in the rich flavors. Dinner will be ready when you get home with absolutely no muss or fuss.
Alternative Methods to Storing Butternut Squash Soup
In the Fridge
If you love leftovers as much as I do, you can simply keep your soup in the fridge and eat it over the next 4 – 5 days. There’s really nothing else to it.
Freeze Your Soup
If you’re dead set on pureeing your soup before storing it, freezing is your best option. You can also freeze chunky soups, but just like canning, leave out the dairy, noodles, and rice.
For best results, freeze your soup the same day it’s cooked, but be sure to let it cool completely on your counter before putting it into your freezer. Add it to freezer-safe containers like these in single meal-size portions. Your soup will freeze more evenly in smaller containers, so keep that in mind.
Never put hot soup into a plastic container or bag, as it’s more likely to leach harmful chemicals into your food.
Always leave 1 inch of space in your containers to allow for expansion, and this is especially important for storing in glass jars because you’re not just risking a mess, you’re risking shattered glass in your freezer.
Once you’ve opened a canned jar of soup or defrosted a frozen container, it will stay safe in your fridge for around 3 days.
Are There Any Soups You Can’t Can?
It’s not a good idea to can pasta, rice, dairy or thickening agents. Also, if your soup recipe calls for dried beans, make sure you cook them first or, at the very least, fully rehydrate them. Otherwise, as long as you follow the directions on your pressure cooker, your soups are safe to can.
What Goes Well With Butternut Squash Soup?
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a soup and sandwich combo at lunch, unless it’s maybe a soup and quesadilla combo. The crunch pairs so perfectly with the smooth, slightly sweet soup. Salads also go great with soup and they’re definitely a healthy option.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more depth, add some grains to your salad, like quinoa or rice. If you want your soup to be the focus of attention, just pair it with some finger foods, like crudités, cheese, and crackers, or a fabulous baguette.
What Can I Garnish Butternut Squash Soup With?
The most common garnish for butternut squash soup is some kind of tangy dairy product like sour cream, crème fraiche or plain yogurt.
If you want to get a bit more creative, topping your soup with some crunch can be quite pleasing. Toasted pine nuts or fried onions work well for this purpose. You can also go simple, with some fresh herbs like basil, thyme or cilantro.