Slow Cooker Thai Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup – This curry squash soup has tender chicken, colorful veggies, and a velvety texture you’ll dream about! (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
So the title’s a mouthful. I get it.
Do you know what else is a mouthful? This soup. A mouthful of awesome.
It’s creamy and rich without a drop of cream, and it’s loaded with vitamin and veggie goodness with a healthy dose of protein from the chicken. It can soothe a sore throat or make you feel cozy and warm on a chilly day. Is there anything this soup can’t do? (Fine. Laundry.)
A big plus for me with any recipe is versatility. It’s the number one way I keep from getting bored in the kitchen. I like to change up the same recipe in several different ways as I make it, and it also helps when you can adapt a recipe to fit different dietary needs. This yummy chicken and squash soup is just that kind of recipe! For instance:
- Paleo or grain-free? Skip the quinoa. It’s delicious without it. You can even add more chicken if that’s your thing.
- Vegan? Skip the chicken. The quinoa fills the soup out nicely and you’ll still come away feeling full and satisfied. Or, you can toss in a drained can of chickpeas along with the quinoa!
- Hate quinoa? It’s just as good with cooked white or brown rice, or you can just leave it out!
- Want more greens? No problem. Stir in a couple of handfuls of spinach at the end!
- Love make-ahead meals? This freezes like a dream.
So it won’t do your laundry and I cannot be responsible for how many bowls you eat in a sitting (it’s SO good), but I’ll gently suggest you try adding this one to your weekly menu. Here’s all you need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO MY THAI CHICKEN AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP:
BUTTERNUT SQUASH. This gorgeous winter squash gets so tender that you can blend it into a velvety smooth puree that gives this chicken and squash soup a silky, creamy texture that’ll blow your mind. (Here’s how to peel + cut a butternut squash if you need a refresher.)
AROMATICS. To play up the Thai-style and curry flavors we’re channeling in this squash soup, I add a base of onion, ginger, and garlic. This trio adds SO MUCH flavor to the base of the soup, along with…
RED CURRY PASTE. Red curry paste is a flavor secret weapon. Packed into each spoonful are gorgeous bold flavors that will elevate this soup to next-level delicious in an instant.
A FEW OTHER FLAVOR BOOSTS. A little dollop of sweet chili sauce (or chili oil), some salt, and a little squeeze of lime juice really brighten the flavors in this chicken and squash soup. Spicy-salty-sweet-tangy all in one. SO GOOD!
BROTH + COCONUT MILK. To carry the flavors in this yummy soup. I like a combination of veggie or chicken broth and coconut milk. The creaminess is so lovely with the curry and Thai-inspired flavors.
CHICKEN BREAST OR CHICKEN THIGHS. For a little protein, I tuck a little chicken into the soup. The slow cooker makes it pull-apart tender and all the flavor in the broth seasons it perfectly.
COOKED QUINOA. Once you’ve pureed the soup and shredded your chicken, you’ll add a little cooked quinoa (or brown rice) into the curry squash soup. This adds texture, plant-based protein, and gives the soup a little more oomph! (Not a quinoa fan? Swap in cooked brown rice!)
A FEW COLORFUL TOUCHES. Along with that silky-smooth squash soup base, the tender chicken, and quinoa, you’ll mix in some roasted red bell peppers and fresh green cilantro right before serving. Then feel free to garnish with some chopped peanuts or cashews, too!
TASTY WAYS TO CHANGE UP THIS THAI CURRY CHICKEN + SQUASH SOUP:
ADD GREENS! My favorite way to play with this recipe is adding in a few handfuls of spinach right at the end. The residual heat of the soup will cook and wilt the spinach down in just 1-2 minutes, and it adds a pretty pop of color and even more nutrients to this dish.
MAKE IT VEGAN. It’s easy to turn this into a yummy vegan dinner by skipping the chicken. You can simply leave it out, or you can add 1 drained can of chickpeas at the end along with the quinoa to fill it out a little more.
MAKE IT PALEO! Or, you can skip the quinoa and increase the chicken to 1.5 lbs for a paleo version. It’s as simple as can be!
SWAP OUT THE QUINOA. Another easy way to mix things up is by swapping out the quinoa for cooked brown rice. I love the freezer packets of pre-cooked brown rice. They’re done in a flash and add a great hearty texture!
FAQ + TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BEST SLOW COOKER THAI CHICKEN AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP:
OUR FAVORITE SLOW COOKER. I’ve owned several slow cookers over the years, but right now I’m using this one. (Mine’s a Pioneer Woman print that’s no longer available, but this one‘s also cute!) It’s simple and straightforward to use and is pretty affordable. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, but it cooks consistently for me and has always gotten the job done! We also have and love this one, which is about $10 more expensive but comes with a few more bells and whistles. It’s programmable, automatically switches to the WARM setting after completing the cooking time, and even has a meat thermometer you can use to prevent overcooking.
TRY AN IMMERSION BLENDER! Immersion Blender. You don’t need an immersion blender for this recipe, but it’s a really great, affordable tool for the kitchen. I have this one and it works like a dream (plus it comes in a bunch of cute colors these days). I use it for warm sauces and soups, but I also use it for making salad dressings + dips.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS. You can pre-cook your quinoa 1-2 days in advance (I use this method), and assemble the slow cooker ingredients the night before if you want, then store the crock in your refrigerator. Then, you’ll just need to transfer the crock to your slow cooker, set it to cook, and you’ll be ready to add those finishing touches at the end in a flash!
CAN YOU FREEZE THIS SOUP? This chicken and squash soup recipe freezes like a dream. No cream to curdle, and it reheats beautifully!
CRAVING COZY FOOD? YOU MIGHT ALSO LOVE…
- How to Cook Quinoa
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Bean Soup
- Salsa Verde Chicken Chili (only takes 15 minutes!)
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Taco Soup
HELPFUL TOOLS + INGREDIENTS FOR THIS THAI CHICKEN + BUTTERNUT SOUP:
This cozy soup warms you from the inside out. There are lots of variations for paleo and vegan eaters and quinoa haters. See the notes for more ideas!
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
- 6–8 cups of diced butternut squash, from 1 large squash (3–4 pounds)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 (14 oz.) can full-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp red curry paste
- 1 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce or chili oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (or, to taste)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (or brown rice, or you can leave it out)
- 2 fresh or jarred roasted red bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- Crushed peanuts or cashews, to garnish (optional)
- Place the chicken, cubed squash, onion, coconut milk, broth, curry paste, sweet chili sauce, ginger, garlic, and salt into the slow cooker.
- Stir to combine (this won’t be perfect since the curry paste will dissolve as it heats up, but give it a good start).
- Cover with the lid and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 7-8 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the soup and shred. Set chicken aside for a minute while you blend the rest of the soup.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the squash and broth mixture until very smooth. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, let the soup cool a bit and, working in batches, puree in a food processor or blender until smooth).
- Stir in shredded chicken, quinoa, diced bell peppers, and cilantro.
- Squeeze in the lime juice or cut the lime into 6 wedges and let everyone squeeze over their own.
- Garnish with peanuts or cashews, if desired.