Pumpkin Soup with (Turkey) Italian Sausage

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour (30 minutes labor intensive)

Ingredients:

1 3-pound pie pumpkin
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbs butter
1 cup yellow onion, diced
3/4 cup carrots, diced
1 cup golden delicious apple, diced
2 tsp dried sage (I used the fancy McCormick stuff)
1 tbs honey
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup browned Italian Turkey Sausage (I highly recommend Jennie-O's hot version)
2 tbs flour
1/2 cup buttermilk (or any milk, that's just what I had on hand)
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 oz fresh romano cheese, grated

Directions:
1.  Cut the whole pumpkin into half and discard seeds.  Then, cut the halves into half again, then into small chunks, about the size of your palm.

2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F while steaming pumpkin pieces in a steam basket for 15 minutes.  Dice onion, carrots and apple while waiting.

3.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Carefully removed pumpkin from steamer basket and place onto the baking sheet, flesh side up.  Drizzle oil on pumpkin, season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.

4.   Let cool enough to touch and carefully remove the pumpkin flesh from the shell.  Steaming the pumpkin should have eased this process.  Dice the pumpkin into small pieces.

5.  Melt butter in a stockpot over medium heat, then saute pumpkin, onion, carrots and apple.  Saute for about 10 minutes or until soft, adding the sage after about 5 minutes.

6.  Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender, adding honey and nutmeg at this time.

7.  Return the puree to the stock pot and add 4 cups chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  **Brown the turkey sausage while heating soup through.

8.  Once the sausage is browned, add 2 tbs flour to the meat.  Stir and cook through until the flour is no longer visible.  Add buttermilk and stir until slightly thickened.

9.  Add turkey sausage to the soup and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

10.  Shred and stir fresh romano into the stockpot just before serving.

**TIP:  Using kitchen shears, cut the casing off of the sausage links.  Break the sausage up in the pan while cooking.  I also spray the pan with olive oil to add a little fat for cooking.
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