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First-rate soup for the winter soul

I love soup. From light broths to hearty stews and everything in between, I LOVE SOUP! Come colder temperatures, I could eat soup twice a day, every day if my family didn’t object so much. As I’ve gotten older my tastes have matured from the canned variety — although Campbell’s tomato soup is still a pantry staple in my house — to the homemade variety thankfully. Every year I aim to add a new soup recipe to my ever-growing collection.

Smoked Sausage, Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Soup. Photo by Jens Levisen

Smoked Sausage, Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Soup. Photo by Jens Levisen

Some of my favorite soup recipes over the years have been cream cheese and tomato, courtesy of Grand Marais’ Naniboujou Lodge; lasagna, thank you Marnie Thompson; baked potato à la Su Madson; and cauliflower-cheese from an issue of Hy-Vee’s Seasons magazine.

But the best recipe, by far, was one I stumbled on in 2007 while searching the Food Network’s website — Emeril Lagasse’s smoked sausage, butternut squash and wild rice soup. This hearty soup wonderfully highlights the flavors of all it’s ingredients and is the perfect antidote to cold temperatures. Enjoy, as Emeril says, “Bam!”

 

Smoked Sausage, Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients

2 medium butternut squash, about 3 to 4 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

12 cups chicken stock

2 1/2 cups chopped onions

1 cup wild rice

3/4 pound smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 cups fresh corn kernels

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Jennifer Levisen

Jennifer Levisen

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Season the squash with 1 tablespoon of the oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. Remove from the oven and cool completely. In a blender or food processor, puree the squash with 2 cups of the chicken stock. Puree until smooth and set aside.

3. In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring 4 cups of the stock and 1/2 cup of the chopped onions to a simmer. Stir in the rice and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally with a fork. Remove the rice from the pan and cool.

4. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and brown for 3 minutes.

5. Add the remaining 2 cups of onions and the corn. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes.

6. Add the remaining 6 cups of stock and squash puree. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface.

7. Stir in the rice and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

8. Remove from the heat, stir in the half-and-half and season with salt and pepper.

9. Stir in the parsley and serve.

 

Tips:

 

• I hardly ever — read: never — have chicken stock on hand, so I usually substitute broth and the recipe is just as delicious. 

 

• I’ve never used fresh corn with this recipe, always frozen. I do steam it before adding it to the soup.

 

• I prefer small pieces of sausage in this soup, so I slice the sausage into quarter-inch pieces and quarter each piece.

 

• I hardly ever have fresh parsley leaves on hand so I usually omit that step from the recipe.

 

Jennifer Levisen lives and works in Albert Lea. She enjoys finding new recipes to share with her family and friends.