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Panera Copycat Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Panera’s butternut squash soup is a fall favorite that is loaded with flavor and cream.  My vegan butternut squash soup is the healthy alternative!!!  Full of warm spices and a creamy spicy coconut cream, this soup is irresistible and guilt free!  

Buttenut squash is a fall favorite. Panera's butternut squash soup is deliciously decadent and full of flavor. Meet its rival! My vegan butternut squash soup is delicious and guilt free!

Have you ever had one of those insane days where you run around all day and then somewhere around 6pm the hunger pains in your stomach start to creep up on you and you realize you have not eaten all day.

I never thought I could be one of those people that would actually forget to eat, but alas I was and I did.

So knowing that I could easily read emails while scarfing down some food, I decided to swing by my favorite place to nosh and work.  Panera.

You know, I always feel so grown up when I go to Panera to eat and work.  I remember my college days, when I would go to Panera to study because no other place would make me concentrate and make me feel as studious as Panera did.  I would have a soup and then for the next 5-6 hours I would consume cup after cup after cup of peach and ginger tea.  I always felt the staff had a bet of how many times I went to the bathroom during my “stay” at the restaurant.

Buttenut squash is a fall favorite. Panera's butternut squash soup is deliciously decadent and full of flavor. Meet its rival! My vegan butternut squash soup is delicious and guilt free!

Even though I have been an adult for quite some time now… I still sometimes feel as if I am just “playing” one.  Typically I am rudely awakened from those thoughts by a giggling toddler who screams “mommy! mommy!” at me and flies at me like a torpedo full of wet kisses and tight hugs.

Anyhow…moving on.  I approached the Panera counter and contemplated my options.  I am a fan of soups.  A big one.  And this particular night it was drizzling and miserable.  The kind of fall weather that screams soup and couch time.  Luckily, Panera had a few couches by the fireplace I was eyeing.  Now just to decided on a soup.

Sadly their soup options for vegans are limiting.  Typically only allowing for the black bean soup option.  Which is delicious, but has gotten a bit boring.

“Would you like to try our new Autumn Butternut Squash soup?”  I was asked by an overly cheery cashier who had perfectly drawn on eyebrows.

“Well I don’t eat meat or dairy.  Does it have any cream or milk in it?”  I asked, all the while studying and trying to decipher which product she was using to indeed get such perfect eyebrows.

Buttenut squash is a fall favorite. Panera's butternut squash soup is deliciously decadent and full of flavor. Meet its rival! My vegan butternut squash soup is delicious and guilt free!

“Nope, no cream.  And it’s delicious!  It’s my personal favorite.”

Well it was set then.  I decided to order the soup and quickly ran over to my favorite spot on the couch next to the fireplace.

They brought my soup and as I skimmed through my emails, carefully answering each one, I started eating my soup, only to pause when I needed to dip a piece of bread into the hot pool or orangy looking goodness.

A few spoonfulls in…I suddenly paused and realized something felt…off.  Like my stomach felt off.  And then I took another taste of the soup,this time actually stopping to taste it instead of just inhaling it in between my speed typing.

Buttenut squash is a fall favorite. Panera's butternut squash soup is deliciously decadent and full of flavor. Meet its rival! My vegan butternut squash soup is delicious and guilt free!

OMG…THIS HAS CREAM IN IT.  I knew it.  And my stomach knew it too.  You see, with the exception of one or two tastes on occasion when I was cooking with dairy, I have not had dairy products since June, when I went plant based.  So I felt the disagreement of dairy withing my belly only a few minutes after ingesting it.  And I was…PISSED.  Because I knew a night of stomach pains and bloating lay ahead of me.

So I marched over to the cashier counter, soup in hand and there stood my perfectly eyebrowed cashier with her co-worker, giggling away, most likely discussing other people’s not so perfect eyebrows.

“Excuse me, does this have milk, cream, butter or cheese in it?”  I asked again.

“No it doesn’t.” Answered Perfect Eyebrows.

“Really?  Cuz it tastes like it does and my stomach sure as hell thinks it does too.”

“It doesn’t have milk but it has half and half in it,” said Perfect Eyebrow’s friend.

“Half and half is dairy!  Therefore this soup is not dairy free!”  I said in a ridiculously annoyed voice.  Perfect Eyebrows and her friends just stared at, like deer in head lights…as if I was speaking in tongues.

I was that lady now.  The one with dietary restrictions holding up the line.

So… I got them to replace my soup with the darn black bean soup…which unfortunately seemed to annoy my stomach a bit more.  And after a few spoonfuls, I decided I must leave this place to preserve my sanity and my digestion.

Buttenut squash is a fall favorite. Panera's butternut squash soup is deliciously decadent and full of flavor. Meet its rival! My vegan butternut squash soup is delicious and guilt free!

As I drove home, I thought about that perfect soup with its really great balance of flavors and decided I needed to recreate the vegan version of this dish.  I drove by Costco on the way home to pick up my favorite fall product there: peeled and cubed butternut squash.

Have you ever tried peeling and chopping a butternut squash?  It’s a monster to cut through. And for $4 I have an entire box of peeled and cut up butternut squash that I do not have to worry about.

I made the soup at midnight on a whim.  (I have some of my biggest cooking successes this late at night.)  Gave it to my husband…spoon feeding him:

“This is good…It tastes like that brown stuff.” pause another spoon “Mmmm it’s creamy…feels fatty.”  another spoon “What is it?” another spoonful. “It’s sweet.  Oddly delicious.  Is it healthy, I just worked out…is there protein in there?”

So I was a success and so was the soup.  Mission accomplished.  Now I can sleep.

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Panera Copycat Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Panera Copycat Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

  • Author: Mila Furman
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 bowls 1x


Panera’s butternut squash soup is a fall favorite that is loaded with flavor and cream. My vegan butternut squash soup is the healthy alternative!!! Full of warm spices and a creamy spicy coconut cream, this soup is irresistible and guilt free!


  • 5 cups of butternut squash (cleaned and cubed. *)
  • 2 Honey crisp apples (peeled, cored and cubed)
  • 3 carrots (peeled and cut into large pieces)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 12 tsp curry powder
  • 12 tsp red chili flakes plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice*
  • 45 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (the one from the can)
  • salt and pepper
  • pumpkin seeds for garnish


  1. Add squash, carrots and apples to a pot with coconut oil or olive oil. Allow to sweat for 5-10 minutes until softened lightly. 
  2. Pour in vegetable broth, enough to cover all the veggies.
  3. Add curry, cinnamon, honey and orange juice. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Add contents to a food processor or vitamix. Puree until completely smooth. Feel free to add more vegetable broth or a bit of water to thin it out.
  6. Pour into bowls and take a spoon and add a bit of coconut cream. Swirl it in with the back of the spoon to create an abstract design.
  7. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and red chili flakes.


Note 1: These is about the size of 1 container from Costco. Otherwise for this recipe you will need about 2 nicely sized butternut squash that equals roughly 5 cups.
Note 2: Curry powder is very powerful so be light handed with it at first. You want a hint of it not to over power the whole dish.
Note 3: Most stores have freshly squeezed orange juice in the produce aisle you can buy instead of squeezing your own out.
Note 4: If you notice, the soup does not a super bright orange color but instead it has more of a deeper color. This is due to the caramelizing of the vegetables before cooking the soup. I would take that flavor over the color any day!
Note 5: Stir up the coconut milk in the can to combine the liquid and the cream.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Vegan
  • Cuisine: Fusion
Buttenut squash is a fall favorite. Panera's butternut squash soup is deliciously decadent and full of flavor. Meet its rival! My vegan butternut squash soup is delicious and guilt free!

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  1. Oh wow Mila! This sounds amazing with the apple in it!
    I’m sorry you had that horrible restaurant experience – people can be so ignorant over these things – but hey, then you got this amazing midnight inspiration! Result! 🙂

  2. Wow! I’m not quite sure what to say about someone who doesn’t know that that half and half is a dairy product. I’m sorry you had that experience, but… I suppose it did fuel this awesome post! So maybe little miss ‘Perfect Eyebrows’ did you a favor after all 😉 Gorgeous soup my dear!

  3. Thanks for this recipe and sharing your story. Same thing happened to me: I asked if the soup had dairy or butter, the cashier looked through the ingredient book, said “nope.” Bought some soup, then came home, googled the ingredients because I suspected I’d been duped. And yep: butter, cream, and milk.

  4. Stumbled across your blog and just made this recipe…this Vitamix can’t work fast enough right now! Dying to taste it since it smells amazing! Thank you!

  5. I was wondering which honey was used since this is a vegan recipe,isn’t it that vegans not allowed to use honey from bees?

    1. Hi Zumayna! Thanks for the comment. I have to be honest…I still eat honey and many of my plant based friends also eat honey. However, anyone who is against eating honey I recommend using coconut nectar. This will be ideal!

    2. Yes Zumayna, vegans don’t eat honey. We don’t do anything that exploits other living beings whenever possible. But vegan is a lifestyle. Plant-based is just a diet. So the plant-based folks might not mind that honey is not animal-friendly.

  6. Made this the lazy way last night with a few tweaks. Didn’t have 5 cups of squash so did a bit less of that and compensated with frozen peas/carrots. Love how flexible soup can be. Added a generous sprinkle of turmeric and threw everything into my slow cooker on low 8 hrs overnight. Pureed this morning and enjoyed for lunch, adding this to my regular rotation. Thanks for a fab recipe:D

    1. Rebecca what an awesome comment!!!! Thank you so much!!! It does have a lot of versatility to it 🙂 you should try the pea and Serrano one as well it’s fantastic!!!

    1. Hi Lily! Yes I know that…exactly why I wrote that note in the ingredients for my true hard core vegans 🙂 Thanks so much for the note!

  7. I love the combination of flavours, and the smell is amazing. I simply left out the honey entirely assuming the apples would provide the right amount of “sweet”. But it was really too spicy for me. I used only 1tsp of curry, but it ended up so spicy I had to add about a 1/2 cup of half and half to cut the heat, which I didn’t want to do. I wish I’d read the comment above about using turmeric instead before I added the curry! Other than being much to hot, it tastes very nice. I’m eating it anyway, but next time will switch out the curry for turmeric.

    1. Hi Rachel! Gosh I am so sorry about the heat! You must have gotten a very spicy curry!!! Im so glad you enjoyed the flavors otherwise! Take care and happy fall 🙂

  8. I just made this. I had a little less butternut squash and no orange juice. It is the BEST butternut squash soup recipe I have used. I’ve tried many and they’ve all been so bland. I can only imagine how much better it will be with the right amount of butternut squash and orange juice.
    *Side note, I never leave reviews for recipes, but this was so damn good, I had to!

  9. WARNING to cooks: omit the red chili flakes unless you like “afterburn”. This recipe is truly amazing – thank you SO much! I would give it five stars without the pepper flakes. The Panera version is not hot at all (spicy). I will definitely be making this again (sans red chili flakes).

    1. Thanks for the hint! Ill make sure I mention that it is mentioned that it is optional! Im glad you enjoyed it otherwise!

  10. Loved this! Perfect for the weekend after Thanksgiving. Comforting, warm. I loved the Panera soup & was looking for a copycat– this is amazingly similar. Changes I made : did half turmeric & half curry, added a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon, forgot the coconut milk (didn’t have any) & the pepper flakes, also was out of apples My version was more mild than the Panera version but certainly tweak-able. Another benefit: the house smells amazing! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! Will definitely make again!

  11. I thought I had found the prefect recipe… but then I saw honey in the ingredients.
    It’s not a vegan soup if it has honey- you might think about changing the name as it comes up in the search as a vegan dish.

  12. Ugh! As a vegetarian, I absolutely cannot stand when I ask “Is this dish vegetarian, more specifically, does it have any beef or chicken stock, or anything similar?” and get a negative response, then leave and my stomach tells me otherwise. 🙁 It is the worst! This recipe sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to try it out, thanks!!

      1. This recipe looks great,I cannot wait to try it. It would be helpful to understand how much the container of butternut squash at Costco weighs. THAnks!

  13. Thank you for figuring this out and posting this recipe!! I LOVE This soup! My son is anaphylactic to dairy, eggs, p/n, & t/n, and my youngest DD is sensitive to dairy, with the bed-ridden stomach aches for days. I will be making this soup all winter!! I’m sure that the whole family will love it! I’ve tried to come close to the recipe, using the Souping book, but never getting there. THANK YOU!! Good luck eating out in the future, too. Avoiding dairy is hard, especially when staff are clueless. My favorite reply to when looking for dairy free options was, “Yes, we have gluten free options.”

  14. The coconut milk says the one from the jar. I’m not sure which one that is. I’m aware of the one in the can that I would have in my pantry, and I’m aware of the one in the carton I would have in my frig. Which one should I be using?

  15. oh wow, one delicious soup to start romantic night week!
    May I add some coconut milk on the surface as decorate on the cappuccino coffee?

  16. Woah! This is truly an amazing tasting soup! The only change I made was omiting the chili flakes because I have tiny people eating it. I went to Panera and bought a baguette to eat it with and it was perfect. Fun fact: the container of fresh cubed butternut squash from Costco is exactly 5 cups 😉

  17. It is so beautiful and artful. I already try for sometimes but the image not good as yours. But the taste is really good. after all, thank you for your recipes.

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