Butternut Squash Soup with Sweet Italian Sausage


Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time:  45 minutes


1 large butternut squash, about 3 pounds, halved, seeds removed
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus 12 whole leaves
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons butter


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly coat the squash halves with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Season the inside with salt and pepper and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.

Bake until very tender, about 45 minutes. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and set aside. Discard the peel.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the remaining olive  oil and, when hot but not smoking, add the sausage. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Set half of the browned sausage aside.

Add the onions and cook, stirring, until the onions start to caramelize, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, sage and marjoram, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the cooked squash and chicken stock, stir well to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

With an immersion blender or small batches of soup in a food processor or blender, puree the soup. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepan.

Add the cider vinegar and remaining sausage that you set aside earlier.  Stir well and heat through.

In a small saute pan, cook the butter over medium-high heat until it begins to turn brown around the edges. Add the whole sage leaves and cook until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the leaves to paper towels to drain.

Serve garnished with the crispy sage leaves.

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