How to Make a Spot-on Copycat Panera Autumn Squash Soup

Why wait for the fall menu to arrive at Panera? With our copycat Panera autumn squash soup, you can enjoy this fan-favorite menu item any day of the year.

When the weather starts to turn chilly, and the leaves begin to fall, we want one thing and one thing only: Panera autumn squash soup. (Well, aside from the obligatory pumpkin spice latte.)

This rich and creamy seasonal menu item at Panera is made with sweet butternut squash and all of fall’s best spices. Pureed velvety smooth and garnished with pumpkin seeds, this simple soup recipe is pure comfort in a copycat Panera bread bowl.

If you love this soup as much as we do, then you’ll agree: It’s a tragedy that Panera autumn squash soup can only be enjoyed in the fall and winter months. But you can make this spot-on copycat soup recipe any day of the year (along with our other Panera copycat recipes).

How to Make Panera’s Autumn Squash Soup

Makes 12 servings (about 1 cup each)


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can pumpkin puree (15 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Salted roasted pumpkin seeds or pepitas

Editor’s Tip: Not a fan of coconut? Despite containing an entire can of coconut milk, this soup does not have a coconut flavor. Rather, the coconut milk adds a luxurious richness and creaminess to the soup. If you don’t wish to use coconut milk, experiment with other nondairy milk alternatives.


Step 1: Steam the squash

In a large saucepan with a lid, add the butternut squash and enough water to cover the squash. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until very tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: For a more intense squash flavor, try roasting the squash in the oven rather than steaming it. Roasting the squash amplifies its natural sweetness. Use this Roasted Butternut Squash Dippers recipe as a guide.

Step 2: Saute the veggies

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and onion, then cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Step 3: Add liquids and spices

To the vegetables, stir in the vegetable broth, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), coconut milk, apple cider, brown sugar and seasonings.

Step 4: Toss in the squash

Next, drain the butternut squash and add it to the broth mixture. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes to let the flavors marry together. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Step 5: Puree

Working in batches, add a portion of the soup to a high-powered blender (here are our Test Kitchen’s recommended blenders). Cover and puree until silky smooth.

Editor’s Tip: We like to transfer batches of the pureed soup to a large mixing bowl with a spout as we work. This makes transferring the soup back to the Dutch oven a breeze.

Step 6: Make it creamy

Return the soup to the Dutch oven and add the heavy cream (or one of these heavy cream substitutes). Cook and stir until heated through.

Step 7: Serve

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds (sometimes labeled pepitas). Enjoy!

Tips for Making Copycat Panera Autumn Squash Soup

Copycat Panera Autumn Squash Soup in a white cast iron pot sitting on a cutting board with a ladle, pepitas, and cream nearbyTMB Studio

How do you puree soup?

There are a few simple and effective ways to puree soup smoothly. Working in batches and using a blender, as suggested in this recipe, is one popular method. For best results, choose a high-powered blender. It will yield a soup with that silky restaurant-quality consistency.

Don’t like the hassle of transferring the soup to a blender? Puree the soup directly in the Dutch oven using an immersion blender.

How do you make copycat Panera autumn squash soup thicker?

The best part about making copycat restaurant recipes (like this Panera copycat mac and cheese) is you can customize them.

If you prefer a thicker autumn squash soup, add more heavy cream to the recipe and allow the soup to simmer and reduce for a few extra minutes. Looking to make the soup thinner? Stir in additional vegetable broth before serving until the desired consistency is reached.

How do you store copycat Panera autumn squash soup?

Copycat Panera autumn squash soup (and copycat Panera broccoli cheese soup) can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, warm gently on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

How do you freeze copycat Panera autumn squash soup?

If you would like to freeze the soup, we suggest doing so before adding the cream. Generally, soup recipes that contain dairy do not freeze well since doing so can cause the protein structures in the milk to become grainy or curdled upon thawing and reheating.

For best results, prepare the soup as directed through step 5 and freeze it in an airtight container. To serve, let the soup thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then warm gently on the stovetop, stirring occasionally, until steaming. Stir in the cream and then serve once heated through.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.