Winter squashes can be found in stores year-round and, for the most part, are perfectly fine. But in the fall and winter, when they’ve been recently harvested, squashes like butternut, acorn and pumpkin truly shine.
These hearty squashes, known for their sweetness, tend to get starchier the longer they’re off the vine, turning the flesh drier and less sweet as they are stored. That makes autumn, when they are at their best, the perfect time to work them into your meal rotation as much as possible.
One of the most popular ways to utilize these beauties is to incorporate them into a soup. These soups are often rich, creamy and puréed until silky smooth. While these versions are lovely and elegant, they aren’t necessarily hearty enough to be a meal. They can also be cloying and overly sweet.
In an effort to explore a brothier and more savory version that could be satisfying enough for a meal, I landed on this week’s Butternut Squash, Sausage and White Bean Soup.
While this soup is brothy, that broth is packed with squash flavor. That’s achieved by simmering some of the squash in the broth and puréeing it before the other ingredients are added. Yes, it’s an extra step, but it’s an easy one and well worth the time, as it gives the soup a vibrant color and infuses every spoonful with the essence of butternut.
More squash is cubed and added to the butternut broth, along with cooked Italian sausage and canned white beans, which deliver a savory note along with a feeling of substance in the bowl. Chopped greens are stirred in at the end of the cooking process to give the soup a touch of brightness.
A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a loaf of crusty bread is all you need to complete this quick and easy autumnal meal.
Butternut Squash, Sausage and White Bean Soup
Note: Cooking some of the squash in the broth, and puréeing it before the rest of the ingredients are added, gives this brothy soup body without making it thick and heavy. This soup can be made completely ahead of time and frozen for up to 2 months. From Meredith Deeds.
• 1 medium butternut squash, about 2 1/2 lb., divided
• 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 6 c. homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
• 1⁄2 lb. (8 oz.) bulk Italian sausage
• 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
• 2 (15-oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed