It’s a few days before Halloween and most of us in the U.S. are experiencing record-high temperatures. For example, it’s forecasted to be 80 degrees here in the Ozarks today, and quite frankly, I’m SICK OF IT. I love fall and all of the cozy things that come with it. One of my very favorite of those cozy fall-type things is making soups and stews. There’s just something I love about putting together a bunch of ingredients and letting it simmer on the stove, adding a little of this, and a little of that, until I reach just the right balance of flavors. It’s a labor of love to watch over the pot, sometimes all day, its aroma filling the house, carefully tasting and adjusting, and patiently waiting for a soul-warming bowl of the season’s bounty. This stew takes all the best vegetables of fall and savory smoked sausage and makes one harmonious and satisfying meal in less than an hour.
Here’s what you’ll need*:
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 lb. smoked sausage, cut in half- or quarter-moons
- 1 onion, diced (about 1 c.)
- 3-4 carrots, sliced (about 2 c.)
- 2-3 parsnips, cut into pieces sized like your carrots (about 2 c.)
- 2 ribs celery, diced (about 2 c.)
- 2 c. butternut squash, diced
- 2 c. potatoes, diced
- 1 c. kale, chopped
- 8 c. low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 t. Italian seasoning
- 2 T. fresh parsley, minced
- 2 t. chipotle powder, chili powder, or smoked paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 T. cornstarch
- Salt and pepper
*The best part of making soup is that nothing is exact. These amounts are approximations. The important thing is that your hard vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and squash) are of similar size so they cook evenly. Start with these amounts of broth and seasonings and add more to suit your taste as the soup simmers and develops flavor.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the sausage. Cook the sausage until it has caramelized all over to a deep brown and you’ve developed a nice fond (the browned bits and caramelized drippings) on the bottom of the pot.
Next, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Stir in the onions, reduce the heat to medium and cover. Stir occasionally as the onions release their water, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the fond into your mix. Cook until the onions are translucent and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Now, add a splash of the stock, about 1/2 cup to deglaze the rest of the fond. Once you’ve scraped the bottom clean, add the remaining vegetables, except the kale. Pour in enough stock to cover the veggies by 1/2 an inch or so. Add the garlic and all of the seasonings, except the parsley. Make a slurry with a little of the (cold or room temperature) stock and the cornstarch and stir it into the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer and cover.
After 10 minutes or so, give it a taste and add more seasoning, if you like. Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Keep tasting and adjusting, if needed. Remove the lid and simmer another 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Add the kale and parsley, turn the heat down as low as it will go and let the greens wilt for about 5 minutes. It’s done at this point, but I like to let it sit on the stove, just below simmering, for a while to let the flavor really develop for 20 minutes or so.