A lot of the flavor in this soup comes from the sausage so you want to use sausage that you love. I wanted a little heat but not too hot so I used ground mild Italian sausage and added a hot Italian link removed from the casing. You can use all mild, all hot, or any ratio of the hot/mild. You can use pork, chicken or turkey sausage and you can replace the kale with spinach, swiss chard, escarole or any combination of greens. The addition of butternut squash gives a sweetness that works really well with the stronger savory flavors. It’s the perfect balance!
Bundle up, layer your socks, put on fuzzy slippers and grab your soup pot. In an hour you will have a batch of delicious, hearty soup that will warm you from the inside out, and can bring warmth and comfort to a hurting heart.
- 1 1/2 pounds ground Italian sausage (mild, hot or combination)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large bulb fennel, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more or less to taste)
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 15.5-ounce cans navy or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 pound kale leaves roughly chopped
- shredded or grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Place large soup pot over medium-high heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined dish with a slotted spoon. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the sausage grease from the pan then add the chopped onion and fennel. Saute for 5 minutes then add garlic, red pepper flakes and squash. Saute 2 additional minutes.
Return sausage to the pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Add beans and kale and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve sprinkled with cheese.