Hunks of crusty, toasted baguette and parmesan cheese accompany one of our favorite wintertime soups.
We don’t get many fresh vegetables up here in Arctic Alaska. Squash really shines. It ships well and keeps for months, so every August we fill a tub with an assortment of acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, put in in the mail, and use them in pies, soups and entrées over the following months. Puréed butternut squash is a terrific way to thicken hearty soups. I do a version of bean and sausage soup every winter in my big soup kettle. This year’s was our favorite to date, and although ingredients on hand will always necessitate minor changes, we’ve now got a base recipe that’s a keeper.
Although ingredients can be freely substituted, the combination of smoked chipotle peppers and star anise is especially nice. Make this dish even tastier by roasting the squash and the tomatoes on a charcoal grill.
Hearty Bean, Roasted Squash and Sausage Soup
Ingredients: Makes about 2 gallons. If you do not have whole peppers, substitute powdered cayenne or similar pepper, or use a good chili or Thai blend.
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1o cups black and pinto beans (or use all black beans), soaked, tender and ready for cooking
- 3 stars of star anise
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped coarse or sliced
- 3 smoked chipotle peppers, ground fine (use a food processor)
- 1 ancho pepper, ground fine
- 1 tbs oregano
- 1/2 tbs thyme
- 1 bay leave
- two sweet onions, chopped coarse
- several grinds black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet corn
- 1 pound sausage, sliced (I used chicken sausage.)
- olive oil
- chicken broth – enough to cover beans plus some additional broth to use when puréeing the squash. (I use Better Than Bouillon to make the broth.)
- 2 pounds diced tomatoes, canned or fresh, seeds removed
- smoked sea salt, to taste
- Place a cooking sheet in an oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
- Squash: Cut away the stem and slice into discs approximately one inch thick. Quarter these slices. Remove seeds and stringy flesh. Leave the skin on.
- Place the squash in a large pan, add olive oil, and toss till all pieces are well coated.
- Lightly oil the heated baking sheet in the oven and place the oiled squash pieces on the pan. Roast until thoroughly cooked through and soft – about 20 minutes.
- Place cooked squash on a large cutting board. When cool enough to work with, use a knife to remove the skin.
- Use a stick blender or food processor to purée the squash a few chunks at a time. Keep the mixture fairly thick.
- When all the squash has been puréed, place in a container and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large soup kettle combine the beans, star anise, garlic, chipotles, anchos, oregano, thyme, black pepper, bay leave, enough chicken broth to cover all the ingredients, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and continue cooking on a low simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the puréed squash.
- Add the tomatoes, corn and sausage. Add smoked sea salt, if needed.
- The soup is ready to serve, but will be even better if it rests for an hour or more.
Serve with freshly baked French baguettes.