Two things started this week that happen every year around this time. It’s another reminder that the end of fall is near. Number 1:My mom calls/emails with a daily update on the snowfall report for Northcentral Wisconsin. They’re expecting 4-8″ overnight. Brace yourself. Minnesota won’t be too far behind. Number 2:The kitchen partner begins to eat plain old leftover squash for two meals a day. No butter. No brown sugar. Just plain squash, mushed on a plate. Maybe a drizzle of maple syrup if he’s feeling adventurous. I think it’s disgusting. His co-workers think it’s creepy. He can’t get enough.
Knowing that squash is how a locavore survives this time of year (low in fat, high in fiber, good source of antioxidants and long-lasting in cold storage), I’ve done my best to support the kitchen partner’s annual obsession. But let’s be honest. Those of us who didn’t spit it right back at our parents, were fed spoonful after spoonful of squash mush while strapped to a chair through our entire infancy. I feel the same way about leftover yellow mush now as I did back then. Traumatic
Until this past weekend, squash soup has fallen too close to this yellow mush for my taste. Even though it’s smooth and mixed with cream, the butternut squash soups popping up on restaurant menus still give me the willies. My own squash soup recipe is inspired from one in Betty Rosbottom’s Sunday Soup.
[Did I mention I LOVE this seasonal soup book?] The first soup I’ve ever tried with whole squash chunks, greens and pasta. I made a few changes: spicy italian sausage instead of bacon, vegetable stock instead of chicken, and cheese-filled tortellini rather than bow-tie pasta. I’d love to try it as written, but it’s what I had on hand.
I tossed in some fall greens from the farmers’ market and some Hoch apple cider for good measure. The squash is cooked until just tender to prevent any pureeing. It’s perfect for those who can’t handle mushy-ness like me and perfect for the days when mom’s snowfall report gets a little grim.
Italian Squash Soup
1 lb. bulk spicy italian sausage
2 medium-sized acorn or heart of gold squash or 1 large butternut squash
1 large bunch greens (swiss chard, kale, collard greens)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/3 C. apple cider
4 C. vegetable stock
2 1/2 C. water
8 oz. pasta (tortellini, ravioli, or farfalle will work)
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt, if desired
1. Place sausage in a large stock pot and cook over medium heat until completely done, about 7-10 minutes.
2. While sausage is cooking, cut the squash in half and remove any seeds or stringy pieces. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, carefully peel the skin from the squash. Cut into 3/4″ cubes and set aside.
2. Wash and throughly dry greens, removing leaves from any thick, woody stems. Roughly chop and set aside.
3. Remove sausage and excess fat from pot, 1-2 tsp. of grease should be left in pot. Add onion and apple cider and cook over medium heat until onions are just tender.
4. Add squash, stock and water to the pot. Bring to a boil, add pasta and seasonings. Reduce to a simmer for 8-10 minutes or until squash is barely tender. Do not overcook. Add greens and cook for 1-2 more minutes.