It’s that time of year here in the Northeast. The evenings are cool, so that even when we have a nice sunny day, a hearty dinner is welcomed. The concept for this recipe is not mine – I can’t remember where I saw the original, which was made with pumpkin. Having 22 pound winter squashes drinking wine on my front porch inspires me to get a little creative and come up with meals that will use up some of the bounty.
First – getting the squash ready for the soup – see here, or just scroll down a few inches. Got it? Okay, now get the rest of this stuff.
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
12 ounces button mushrooms, cut in thick slices
1 large onion, large dice
3 stalks celery, large dice
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups reconstituted chicken soup base
[you can substitute 5 cups broth or chicken stock for the above 2 ingredients]
5 cups cooked and pureed winter squash [can use frozen winter squash]
2 large cloves garlic – finely chopped
5 4 inch sprigs thyme [1/2 teaspoon dried]
4 4 inch long sprigs Greek oregano [1 teaspoon dried]
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley [2 teaspoons dried]
6 ounces room temperature cream cheese [not pictured]
1 cup half and half or light cream
salt and pepper to taste
Put about 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil in a heavy 5 quart soup pot and heat to just under the smoking point. Add the Italian sausage and brown very well. This is a spicy chicken sausage from a local company called Lupos. If you live near the Binghamton/Ithaca area you should look for their products because they make fantastic sausage. Spicy or “hot” sausage is best for this I think, but milder sausage will work if that is what you prefer. Remove the browned sausages and set aside.Being a dutiful daughter, I called my Mom to chat right about in here and so we are missing a few photos. After removing the sausage, add another tablespoon olive oil and brown the sliced mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Remove those and set aside. Add one more tablespoon olive oil to the soup pot, along with the onions and celery, reduce the heat to medium and saute until they are becoming translucent. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for a couple minutes to reduce the wine a bit. Add the chicken broth and soup base or the stock, and cover. Simmer about 20 minutes. A note about broth, stock or soup base. I keep soup base on hand for those times when I either run out of broth or stock or when I am trying to stretch the broth a bit. Soup base is cheaper than broth, but most kinds are very salty, so you would not want to use it straight in a recipe like this. Even using it at this amount, you want to be cautious in adding additional salt, keeping in mind also that the squash may be salted already as well.Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the squash.Slice the sausage and add, along with the mushroomsChop the herbs and add them, then allow to come up to a simmer.The cream cheese is very tricky stuff, having totally eluded the camera. Nonetheless, it is in the soup. You want it at room temperature, or even a little warmer – I leave it in a shallow bowl on the stove stop while the soup cooks. Temper it by adding small amounts of the warm soup and stirring in completely until it is very smooth and thinned out some. Stir into the soup and then add 1 cup of half and half or light cream. Bring back a simmer, but do not allow it to boil or it might break and curdle. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.I like to top each serving with some roasted squash cubes and bit of parsley leaf.It’s almost good enough to make you forget that you are missing summer.