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Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Soup Three crispy sage leaves, fried in brown butter, float on a sea of an unexpectedly light and creamy soup. When I first read the recipe, I half expected it to be an ordinary butternut squash soup with bits of Italian sausage milling about. Not so! The wonderful flavors of the sweet Italian sausage beautifully complement the delicate flavors of the butternut squash and fresh herbs. Pureeing the soup first in a blender and then straining it with a sieve creates a smooth and silky texture. This savory soup transforms fall meals from ordinary into extraordinary.

Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Soup
Emeril Lagasse

INGREDIENTS
1 large butternut squash, about 3 pounds, halved, seeds removed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus 12 whole leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
6 cups light chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream, or more to taste
2 tablespoons butter

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Lightly coat the squash halves with 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Season the inside with salt and pepper and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until very tender, about 45 minutes. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and reserve. Discard the peel.

3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the remaining vegetable oil and, when hot but not smoking, add the sausage. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.

4. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until the onions are wilted and starting to caramelize, about 6 minutes.

5. Add the garlic, sage and marjoram, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

6. Add the cooked squash and chicken stock, stir well to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. With a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor or blender, puree the soup. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepan.

8. Add the cider vinegar and stir to combine. Add the cream and adjust seasoning, to taste.

9. In a small sauté pan, cook the butter over medium-high heat until it begins to turn brown around the edges. Add the whole sage leaves and cook until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the leaves to paper towels to drain.

10. Serve the soup in bowls, garnished with the crispy sage leaves.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Make sure to bake the squash on a baking sheet with a rim, because as the squash bakes, it releases juice.

2. I used two links of Italian sausage. To make sure I was using the correct amount, I weighed them. Two links of the brand that I used weighed 8.25 ounces.

3. The next time I make this soup for my family, I might not go through the added work of straining the soup after running it through the blender. They won’t care if the soup is extra smooth or not. If I were making the soup for friends and had the time, I would probably go ahead and strain the soup.

Enjoy!

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I never knew what the big deal was about butternut squash soup until I tasted some at a Zagat-rated restaurant. It was thick and creamy like most squash soups are, but what made this one stand out was the surprising taste of apple in it. As soon as I got home from dinner that night, I searched the Internet for a similar soup recipe. None of the recipes I found was exactly what I was looking for and I was disappointed. Then at the end of a long day of Christmas shopping, I came across a cookbook for soups and stews that contained a recipe for a butternut and apple soup. Although, I was supposed to be buying gifts for others, I quickly snatched up the cookbook and bought a gift for myself!

Winter Squash and Apple Bisque
Recipe from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook Soup & Stew

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 Pippin, Granny Smith, or other tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 butternut squash, about 2 lb, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus whole leaves for garnish
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/2 cup half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions:
1. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Sauté the onion and shallots until softened, about five minutes.

2. Add the apples and squash and cook until nicely coated, about 3 minutes longer.

3. Add the stock and rosemary and bring to a simmer. Add the thyme.

4. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat. Using a handheld or standing blender, purée the soup until smooth.

6. Stir in the half-and-half and season with salt and pepper.

7. Reheat gently over medium-low heat.

8. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the sour cream and rosemary and thyme leaves.

Makes 6-8 servings

Linnell’ Notes:
1. Just a reminder, butternut squash are easier to peel if you microwave them on high for two minutes first.

2. I would have liked this soup even more if it had a more pronounced apple flavor. The next time I make this soup, I will add one more apple. Also, I think I will experiment with different varieties of apples to see which one gives the soup the best flavor.

3. Other dense, orange-fleshed winter squash could be substituted for the butternut squash.

Enjoy!

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