Butternut Squash and Apple Soup: A Raw/Cooked Comparison

by Gena on March 7, 2011

Thanks for sharing your weird ‘sammich ideas! I was glad you all liked the cashew/apple combo.

When you’ve been eating semi-raw for as long as I have, you start to realize that you’ve had both a raw and a cooked version of almost all of your favorite foods: soups, burgers, wraps, etc. I make sunshine burgers raw, and I make them cooked; I make hummus raw, and hummus cooked; I make noodles raw, and noodles cooked; you get the idea, right?

One of my favorite soups in the world is butternut squash and apple. I love how the sweet, starchiness of the squash is met by the tartness of apples; I love the fall flavors and spices; I love the simplicity and ease of making it. A long time ago, I shared my recipe for a raw version of butternut squash and apple soup (I don’t love root vegetables in raw form, but I don’t mind them that way when they’re blended), which is one of my favorite raw soups, period.

This past weekend, I tried my hand at a cooked version, and liked the results almost as much. Before I play a fun little game of comparison, let me share the new recipe:

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (Vegan, gluten free, soy free if you don’t use soy milk)

(serves 2-4)

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped (if you use pre-cut, this should be about 3 lbs)
3 apples of choice, chopped; I used Braeburn
1 very small onion, chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt (+more to taste)
Black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp crushed thyme
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut, soy, or rice milk

1) Place squash, apples, and onion on a large roasting tray. Drizzle coconut oil and salt and pepper over them, mix with your hands, and roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until they’re all soft and golden.

2) Place roasted veggies in a blender with vegetable broth, nutmeg, soy, rice, or coconut milk, and thyme. Blend, and season to taste with salt and pepper. If the soup needs more liquid, add some more, until it’s the consistency you like. I like mine nice and thick!

3) Transfer to a pot, and re-heat. Serve dusted with cinnamon.

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How does this recipe stack up to my raw recipe? Good question. Let’s compare:

The Cooked

Pros:

  • Depth of flavor: roasting the veggies gives this soup a deep, sweet, smoky flavor that simply can’t be found in the raw recipe.
  • Mainstream appeal: this recipe is, I think, a little more familiar in flavor than my raw recipe, which is also familiar, but brighter and lighter than the norm.
  • Heat: this is your go-to for a cold winter day.

Cons

  • Time: roasting the vegetables takes quite a bit of time, so this isn’t a recipe you can make spontaneously, or enjoy immediately.
  • Mess: roasting pans are a pain to clean.
  • Sweetness: I find that roasting all of your veggies brings out the natural sugars, which means that this soup is on the sweet side. Now, I love this, and many others will, too, but if you’re cooking for someone who doesn’t appreciate sweet/savory food, you may prefer the raw version.

The Raw

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Pros:

  • Speed! This soup comes together in mere moments, and tastes as if you’ve simmered it for a while (well, aside from the fact that it’s not hot…you know what I mean. It tastes complete). So, even if it occurs to you to make this at the last moment, you’ll still have time for a delicious meal.
  • Less mess: You’ll chop a lot, but no roasting pans to deal with. Or pots. Score.
  • Brightness of flavor: you taste everything in this soup—the spices, the apple, the salt—because it’s so unbelievably fresh.

Cons:

  • Temperature: while you could easily heat this soup up, it lacks the warmth (and depth of flavor) of the cooked soup. Maybe better for autumnal cravings during the summer?
  • Starchiness: leaving the butternut squash raw will give the soup a slightly starchy mouthfeel. I barely notice this, but a very picky eater might. If you’re scared of that, steam the squash lightly.
  • Novelty: the idea of a raw soup may freak out non-raw guests. You can either trick them, and not say a thing before you serve it (just let them be surprised), or you can opt to make a cooked version for others, and enjoy the raw version yourself.

I think that’s a pretty good summary of the soups’ strengths and weaknesses—and it speaks to some of the pros and cons of cooking vs. uncooking in general (that is, cooking is messier and slower, but often easier when you entertain; raw food can present challenges in terms of texture and novelty, but is fast and fresh). In truth, they’re both delicious meals, both worthy of dinner, depending on how much time you have and what your priorities are!

As for taste, did I have a preference? Yep. I registered a faint preference for my raw version when I tried the cooked one, but I still really, really enjoyed the cooked one. And M did too, though he noted that it was a little salty (I originally had 3/4 tsp, so I decreased it to 1/2; that should be safe, and you can add more if you want more).

In any case, butternut and apple is a match made in heaven, so I hope you try either of these soups—or both of them!—soon!

What’s your favorite soup? If it’s raw, can you imagine eating it cooked? If it’s cooked, do you think you could make a raw version?

xo

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn March 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm

My favorite soup would be Butternut Squash as well! I always make mine with the simplest ingredients though: steamed butternut squash, water, and cinnamon. Delicious!:)

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Valerie @ City|Life||Eats March 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I love butternut squash soup, and sweet potato soup, but have always stuck to the cooked versions because I cannot imagine how those two would work raw – ie I was worried about the starchiness – your post is reminding me I should try at least the butternut squash version. My other favorite hot soup I cannot imagine raw is black bean soup. All my other favorite soups are creamy ones made with less starchy vegetables, so lend themselves beautifully to raw versions – I really like raw spinach soup with a bit of cashews for creaminess for example.

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Anon March 7, 2011 at 7:42 pm

This is going to sound weird…but, could I make a “soup” in the blender by putting in a 128 mL bottle of butternut squash baby food, some applesauce, coconut oil, and spices? Or would that it giving my stomach odd issues?

Also, do you eat that alone? Or with other things?

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Gena March 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I definitely eat it with other things. This kind of soup alone is not a meal for me.

And you certainly could, though I can’t vouch for the taste!

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melissa March 7, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Both look good. I tend to like my cooked food HOT, so I can’t really imagine cold minestrone or chili! However, I loved the raw carrot avocado soup you made for me once.

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Daniel March 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I love pumpkin soup and I’m not really sure how it would taste (or even how I would make it) raw. I’m pretty positive I’d still enjoy it – I love anything pumpkin, but I’m not sure whether or not the cold factor would be so enjoyable.

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nzle March 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I’m making mashed rutabaga for dinner (oh, winter vegetables…) and was just inspired to get up and chop up an an apple to cook with the steaming rutabaga!

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Jennifer and Jaclyn @ sketch-free vegan March 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I’ve always found eating raw winter squash kind of odd. I have never tried it though so I don’t know how it tastes.

Apparently it’s hard to digest raw squash, kind of like a raw potato. What do you think?

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Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama March 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Wow I would have never thought to eat raw squash. I’m intrigued! I actually have my Butternut Squash Apple soup on my meal line up this week; I’m wondering if I should be crazy and try it raw?!

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Faith @ lovelyascharged March 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I love minnestrone, but I’m not feeling a raw version, haha. I wonder if a potato leek could be done raw?

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Lauren March 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Yum, both look delicious! I love pretty much any vegan soup! :)

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Ilana March 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

if you line the pan with tin foil or parchment first, it becomes MUCH simpler to clean!

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Lisa @ Thrive Style March 7, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Looks wonderful!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I would have to go with the cooked one…just b/c raw root veggies do not sound appealing to me. I can actually eat raw brussles sprouts, not really ideal, but I have…but something about raw squash, I just can’t do it.

This one as a con “Mess: roasting pans are a pain to clean.”–
FOIL. I line all my roasting trays with a sheet of foil. Some may say oh that’s wasteful, well, it’s 10 inches of foil and saves a LOT of cleanup time.

Sweetness/natural sugars…that would NEVER be a con in my book :)

Seriously, lovin the recipe, Gena!

And I love the raw vs. cooked comparison – Fun and informative! :)

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Katie March 8, 2011 at 12:37 am

I concur with the foil. Its not super eco-friendly, but neither is scrubbing with a gallon of water to get off the grub.

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Christin@purplebirdblog March 8, 2011 at 1:54 am

I love that outlook!! I’m a foil girl myself. :)

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beth March 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Parchment paper works pretty well for roasting too, and always seems a teeny bit less wasteful than foil, though I may be just telling myself that.

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Tawney March 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm

The starchiness would be a potential deterrent for me too. However, I tried a recipe for sweet potato soup and it recommended that you grate the sweet potato and soak it in water for a few hours to draw out some of the starch. This technique worked and made for a very good tasting soup. I’m going to try this with your squash and apple soup too. Looking forward to it because this combination sounds scrumptious!

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Emily March 7, 2011 at 10:12 pm

These seem so good that I think I want to do my own side-by-side comparison :) Thanks Gena!

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Hannah March 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I love, love, love this comparison post! So much fun to read. And thank you for linking back to the recipe, as it’s something I discounted earlier for lack of correct implements but now that I have a Vita-Mix, I can give it a go :)

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Kelsey @ Clean Teen Kelsey March 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Oh, yumm! I love butternut squash and I love apples. What a fantastically-combined soup. I hope I can try this soon!

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Namaste Gurl March 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Mmmm, I gotta agree- butternut squash and apple go indeed well together. A main reason I’m sad winter is coming to a close soon- no more winter veggies. All the more reason to cook all my favorite winter recipes now!
I just had broccoli cheddar soup tonight (with daiya and nutritional yeast), however, not sure how it would turn out raw, as the broccoli wouldn’t blend well raw.

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Ruth March 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Gena, if you like the taste of roasted veggies, line your baking sheet with parchment paper first — the cleanup is a breeze!

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jenni March 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm

i was going to say the same thing: i recently discovered parchment paper and use it all the time. (My roommates are sloppy meat eaters, so there’s often gross stuff charred to the bottom of our baking sheets – there is no way i’d let my clean veggies touch that crap.) also, i’m going to have to try this soup soon, but i don’t think i could do the raw version very well with my 1970s blender :)

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Mama Pea March 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Is it weird that I think about this raw v. cooked soup question a lot? Yes, yes it is.

Thank you for giving me the answers.

I don’t think I could make Raw African Peanut Slow Cooker Stew. And I’m okay with that.

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FoodFeud March 8, 2011 at 9:09 am

Raw slow-cooker soup would certainly be a challenge…

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Katie March 8, 2011 at 12:39 am

I have to disagree with the time thing. I just made butternut soup on Sunday, and I threw the butternut in with my dinner the night before, and then I just steamed carrots, celery and onion for 2 minutes and threw them all in my blender with spices and water….soup in less than 10 minutes. It just requires alittle forethought. But most cooking does, right?

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Emma (Namaste Everyday) March 8, 2011 at 1:10 am

I love gazpacho and it’s the perfect raw soup! I fell in love with gazpacho a few years ago at a memorial day party, and have had it several times since but it was never as good! I’m always looking for a yummy, cilantro-heavy recipe.

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Casey March 8, 2011 at 2:07 am

Oh I love SO many soups! I probably love cooked cauliflower soup the most and raw carrot soup or avo/zucchini/lime soup raw. So good!

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Karen March 8, 2011 at 7:02 am

I love this soup year round. And it never occurred to me to make it raw until now. The idea of not messing with pots and pans is very appealing!

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Elizabeth@The Sweet Life March 8, 2011 at 8:00 am

Wow-looks delicious!!! Love the comparison.

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Lia March 8, 2011 at 8:53 am

I’ve been a bit scared of raw soups, as I’ve tried a couple and they turned me off of the category, but I have often told myself that I should try to expand my list of what I have tried. This one looks really promising! And I love the hot version wholeheartedly…..excited to see how my palate reacts tot he cold one.

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FoodFeud March 8, 2011 at 9:13 am

I’ve never really tried any raw soups besides gazpacho but the idea certainly intrigues me. It’s just hard to get over the idea of soup not being hot. I’m a bit tomato soup fan, so obviously raw tomato soup would work great, basically being gazpacho, but I’d like to play around with some flavors. I also love all the autumnal root veggies – it would be interesting to see them raw in soups.
However, what I really wanted to comment on was how great this comparison thing is between raw and cooked versions of food! I’d love to see more like this (pro/con burgers, noodles, etc.) I’m always impressed by the adaptability of raw foods.

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tweal March 8, 2011 at 10:29 am

I am a soup lover so there aren’t many kinds I dislike. Lentil with veg is probably my all time fav, and creamy squash soups are up there too. I don’t like raw soup though, it just doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve tried a few recipes/versions but they’re just not for me. I once made a tasty raw cauliflower soup in the vitamix but by the end of the bowl I was really sick of it – even the scent turned my stomach. That was the last time I made raw soup, so I will stick with cooked and hot!

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Diana (Soap & Chocolate) March 8, 2011 at 11:34 am

Mmmm, this reminds me of a similar soup you made for me many moons ago! The flavor combo screams Gena.

I’m not a good judge of the raw/cooked comparison question at any rate, since the only raw soup that’s truly in my “repertoire” (as in have made it more than once) is tomato-tahini and I really have no intention of making a cooked version. It ain’t broke. :)

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

Raw butternut soup is a great idea! I love the comparison, too. The best soup I’ve ever made is a butternut-apple with a little heat (spice) on the end: http://www.sprint2thetable.com/2010/11/fall-soup-perfection

Will have to try it out raw next!

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Kathryn March 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I love your blog, I love your voice, I just think you are really great.

That said, my fav soup is a spicy pumpkin I make with regular pumpkins, not canned. I only make it a few times per year because I have to cut the pumpkins (ok I’m lying, my husband does it in exchange for the soup!).

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Catherine March 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I’ve enjoyed your raw recipe for a quite a while now! Though I usually steam the squash first, and then sometimes warm the end product on the stove before serving in the winter. So I guess I made it more into a cooked recipe!

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Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day March 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I love soup so much.. it’s my favorite food ever… I will say my least favorite soups are these types.. I am partial to a lot of texture in my soup.. but sometimes a bowl of creamy root veggie type stew really hits the spot.

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bitt March 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm

more comment eating!

Ok I think I said something about not liking raw soups because they are lukewarm. And that butternut and apple sounds like a good combo.

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Christine (The Raw Project) March 8, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Interesting comparison. I’m a fan of so many soups that it’s hard to narrow down a favorite – I guess anything curried and creamy and maybe a slight nutty flavor. Your Red Pepper Hemp soup is one of my raw faves. :-)

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sasha March 8, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I just had a simple corn and avocado soup that I loved. I like to add toppings to the raw soups to give a bit of texture.

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Angelique March 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Gena,

Did you notice any difference in the way you felt after eating either soup? I had a weird digestive feeling once after eating a squash raw (might have been pumpkin) so now I shy away from eating those raw in soups. Yet cooked soups make me feel sleepy sometimes when raw doesn’t. Did you notice anything afterward?

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Gena March 11, 2011 at 7:45 am

I had a terrible reaction to raw b-nut squash, chopped, once. But this soup is fine for me. Just experiment!

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theAgonizer February 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I was sick for a day after eating two bowls of blended raw squash. It was so good but left me hugging my stomach for hours.

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Marie March 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Just made some of this (cooked), not the exact amounts but the same ingredients. For such an easy soup it was pretty tasty. I think my boyfriend and roommate liked it even more than I did, exclaiming that it tasted “just like thanksgiving” – and they are both rather carnivorous!

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Kat March 12, 2011 at 1:19 am

I just made some mostly raw butternut soup in my Vita Mix (love that thing!) and it was delicious. The neat thing about using a Vita Mix is that you can blend it very smooth and if you blend on high for a few minutes, the blending will heat it up without cooking it. You just wait until you see a little steam, then turn it off and check for temperature. If it’s not warm enough, blend it for another minute and check again. If you don’t let it go over about 118 deg., you won’t kill the enzymes like roasting/cooking would. The coconut milk & margarine made it creamy and it wasn’t too starchy. The only bad thing is that there wasn’t anyone home to help me eat it so I ate the whole thing! (Being mostly raw, I didn’t want it to go bad….) So be sure to have someone around to help you eat it.

2 Tbsp. healthy margarine or butter
1 or 2 green onions or about 1″ of a leek
1/2 organic butternut squash peeled & cubed
1/2 cup whole raw almonds (soaked almonds would be better)
3 cups filtered water
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or salt to taste)
1/2 can (13.66 oz)light coconut milk
Pinch of grated nutmeg

Put all ingredients in Vita Mix and blend until warm (</= 118 deg) and enjoy.

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Mushroom November 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I will try your butternut and apple soup cooked (my husband likes everything
heated. A suggestion: You can line the baking trays with aluminum foil or
parchment paper, to avoid washing messy trays.

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) May 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Gena – made this tonight (cooked version – I think my non-vita blender would laugh if I tried to pulverise raw squash) and it was STUNNING! Easily one of the best soup recipes I’ve ever made, thank you!

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Gena May 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I am DELIGHTED you liked it!

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Celia N. March 21, 2013 at 6:46 am

I wanted to tell you that I made the cooked version of this soup and it was amazing. Thank you so much for putting it on your site. I will try the raw version soon. Yummy. :)

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Gena March 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Delighted you enjoyed the recipe, Celia :)

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Bianca September 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Thank you so much for this. This was the comparison I needed before going home and preparing some butternut squash soup for dinner.

Since I want quick- I will have to take the in between route….lightly steam the squash and then make a “raw” butternut squash soup!

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