Cold winter days are the perfect time to warm up with a bowl of hot soup. My favorite soups are thick with vegetables and make a one pot meal, complete with a slice of crusty bread or a light salad. This particular soup happens to be my husband’s favorite, the one he asks for as soon as the first chill of autumn can be felt in the air. It’s the official beginning of the cold season in our house, because I refuse to make it when it’s warm – all the roasting and cooking make the kitchen too hot for a New York summer.
The soup takes a little bit of advances preparation, but comes together in just a few easy steps.
2-3 large carrots
1 medium butternut squash
1 large onion or 2 medium
1 head of garlic
1-2 lbs of sweet Italian sausage
2 1/2 cups of chickpeas
4 quarts water
Peel the carrots and the butternut squash, discard seeds. Slice the carrots into 2-3 pieces lengthwise, and then into 1/2 inch thick sticks. Slice the squash into similarly sized pieces, so that both vegetables take about the same time to cook. Peel and quarter the onions. Peel the garlic. Place all the vegetables on an oiled baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400F until soft and the squash and carrots begin to caramelize.
I prefer to use dry chickpeas that I cook myself, but you can use canned chickpeas, or any white beans, like cannellini, if you prefer. If you are cooking your own, they should be soaked at least overnight and up to 24 hours, in cold water that is drained and replenished several times during that period. Rinsing the soaking water and pouring in fresh water renders the beans less potent and causes less gastrointestinal distress that may occasionally accompany bean consumption. After the beans have soaked their fill, place them in a pot with fresh cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer until tender. If you are using canned beans, just rinse them with hot water to get rid of the liquid, otherwise the liquid may add some taste to the resulting soup.
Remove casings from the sausage. In a large pot or a dutch oven, brown the sausage, broken up into 1/2 inch pieces. Add the beans and water. Puree about 1/3 of the carrots and squash, all the onions and garlic in a food processor and add to the pot. Chop the remaining carrots and squash into 1/2 inch dice and also add to the pot. Add salt. While the pot is returning to boil, wash the kale, remove the tough stems, and tear the leaves into small pieces, about 1 inch in size. Add kale to the soup and let cook for a few minutes. Serve hot with a piece of good crusty bread, and stay warm!