pumpkin sausage soup

pumpkin sausage kale soup

I know it happens at your house: you spend all day on household projects, and suddenly it’s past dinnertime and you haven’t started cooking. We’re trying to be better, especially now that my failing to eat makes the baby hangry, too. But sometimes you just need something that you can assemble while you’re finishing up the other tasks, something that satiates your deep craving for nourishment, something that uses up all the pumpkin puree leftover from the pie.

Pumpkin Sausage Soup

with thanks to Rachael Ray (can’t believe I’m saying that!)

I tried to streamline the recipe and work with what we had. Do the same and adapt this to your kitchen! For instance, Rachael suggests peeling and cubing the pumpkin, which might make for a nice texture, but I honestly can’t imagine anything worse than peeling and cubing winter squash. Since I learned the trick from Molly, I only ever cook them whole. Also, I bet you could make this vegetarian with white beans, though you’d want to ramp up the flavor. Maybe browned butter infused with lemon and nutmeg, riffing off Heidi’s?

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (or five sweet Italian sausages, casings removed)
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large bay leaf
3 cups pumpkin puree (from 1 smallish pumpkin or 1 28-oz can pumpkin)
4+ cups chicken broth (or water)
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
3/4 cup brown rice
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg (ground is fine, but freshly grated is divine)
grated parmesan, for serving

Ahead of time

Cook a pumpkin through: bake it on a pan in a 350°F oven for an hour or so, maybe even two. When a knife pierces it easily, it’s ready. Let it cool, slice it in half, discard the seeds, and scoop out the flesh. If you have extra, make a pumpkin pie. If you don’t have a pumpkin, a can of pumpkin puree works fine. But it’s so much less satisfying.

Soup time

Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and de-stem and chop the kale into reasonable pieces. (I can’t stand long, soggy strands of kale falling off my spoon while  I’m trying to eat.)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.

While it’s heating, rinse the rice and put it in a medium pot with two or three cups of water or chicken broth. (If you have chicken bullion around, add a teaspoon per cup of water. Stir thoroughly to dissolve the bullion.) Bring the pot to a boil, then turn the burner to low. It doesn’t need to cook through; you’re just giving it a head start since brown rice takes a while.

Once the oil in the big pot is shimmering, add the sausage and break it into bits with a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage through, until it just begins to brown. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant, maybe five minutes.

Then pour in the cream, the rice and its broth (at whatever stage it’s cooked to), the pumpkin, and the kale. Add more water or chicken broth to cover everything. Then add the bay leaf, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and grate a bit of nutmeg on top. Taste it and add more seasonings accordingly.

Simmer everything for 20 minutes or so, while you’re cleaning up the dishes.

Ladle the soup into shallow bowls. Serve with grated parmesan if you remember. (We didn’t.) I also imagine a drizzle of browned butter would be amazing.

(This post is one in a November series for NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. You can find the rest here.)

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