Butternut Squash, Sausage & Escarole Soup

By Michael Joyce

As the weather starts to get cooler and the leaves on the trees start changing to their autumnal colors, we are reminded that winter is right around the corner.  More importantly, these changes signal that soup season is here!  This is the time of year when there is almost always a pot of soup or stock simmering on my stove.  Soups are wonderfully nutritious, soul-satisfying and most of all…super tasty.  Soups can run the spectrum of very complicated, taking multiple days to finish or insanely simple and able to come together very quick with the help of some pantry staples like high-quality canned beans.  This soup is a prime example of the latter.   It is a variation on the classic Italian soup of Sausage, White Bean & Escarole soup made a bit more autumnal with the addition of roasted winter squash and maple syrup.  

The great thing about soup is that there are endless variations and combinations making soup the most efficient way to clean out your fridge!  This soup would be equally delicious made with kale, or another squash like Kabocha.  I used Italian sausage because that’s what I had stashed away in my freezer, but any sausage would work, especially a Chicken & Apple sausage.  Best thing about soup is that freezes well so make a big pot and pack your freezer for that chilly winter day when you don’t feel like leaving your house. 

Get creative. Have fun.  Soup season is here!

Butternut Squash, Sausage, & Escarole Soup

1 each Butternut Squash, medium-large

1 each Large onion, diced

3 cloves Garlic, chopped

¾ – 1 lb Sausage

¼ teaspoon Red pepper flakes

3 teaspoons Kosher salt

3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Mixed chopped herbs (oregano, sage, thyme)

1 tablespoon Pure maple syrup

¼ c Apple cider vinegar

1 each Parmesan cheese rind

8 cups Stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 head Escarole, chopped 1” squares

1 can High-quality white beans, rinsed

½” piece Ginger, peeled

¼ teaspoon Cinnamon

¼ teaspoon Tumeric

3 tablespoons Parsley, chooped

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Season squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Place cut side down on roasting pan.  Place in oven and roast for 30-40 minutes or until squash is soft. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.  Once cool enough to handle, scoop out squash.  Set aside.  
  2. Heat a large soup pot on a medium to high heat.  While pot is preheating, remove sausage from its casing.  When pot is hot, add the remaining olive oil and crumbled sausage.  Cook until sausage is browned.  
  3. Add diced onions and chopped garlic to pot and continue to cook until onions and garlic are lightly browned.
  4. After cooking onions for about 8 minutes, add chopped herbs, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, turmeric and 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  
  5. Add maple syrup to the vegetables and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the syrup.  Next add the apple cider vinegar and cook until vinegar is dry, and moisture is cooked off.  Add the stock, grated ginger and parmesan rind to the pot.  Turn up the heat on the soup and bring to a boil.  Once soup boils, turn heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes. 
  6. To finish your soup, add the squash, white beans and escarole to the simmering soup.  Cook for about 10 minutes more.  Stir in chopped parsley and taste.  Season with more salt if needed.   Make sure to remove cheese rind.
  7. Serve hot with toasted bread and more cheese for grating on top.  

 

Michael Joyce is a chef in the Lehigh Valley and and local food advocate. Spending his career in kitchens devoted to seasonality and sustainability such as Blue Hill, Barbuzzo, and is currently at Bolete Restaurant. He believes that cooking through the seasons and as close to the source as possible, is not only satisfying and inspiring, but critical to the health of our local communities.