When W and I first became engaged, back in the winter of 2011, I was dreaming of an Autumn wedding. Every vision for the day included a leafy branch framing the splendor of the season, billowing in dramatic shades of red, orange, and gold. I envisioned the colors and weather exactly as we have been enjoying these last few days. And when I planned the wedding menu, it involved all of our favorite soups and stews: Hearty Beef & Mushroom, Creamy Fennel, Irish Vegetable, and this savory combination of white beans, sausage, red potatoes, and autumn vegetables, served in a lovely winter squash. The wedding soup menu, a break from the tradition of a formal catered meal, was prominent in my mind as I formulated a blueprint. I wanted our day to be unique to us, and I am happy to eat soup in any season, on any given day, hot or cold. Why not soup on our wedding day, in the crisp autumn when it is a welcome comfort?
Then all my dreaming went askew as we decided to jump our wedding day back to the beginning of June, and all the favorite soups, so fitting for fall were out of place. No one wanted to eat soup served in a winter squash in June. Believe me, I asked. Our venue was confirmed and though perfect in every other way, the location wasn’t conducive to preparing our wedding meal. I gave in. Soup was no longer an option. There would be no red and golden leaves framing our photos.
Though the day did turn out perfect, it was in a different way, celebrating the beginning of a beautiful summer. The soup waited. And now here it is.
This soup is part of The Recipe Redux October challenge, which is to create a No-Casserole Crock Pot recipe. Though I have made this recipe on the stove top in the past, the slow cooker really is a less-intensive option, and after testing the results, I will definitely be saving myself some time by preparing it in this way into the future.Autumn Bean and Sausage Acorn Squash Bowl Soup, adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook 2 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight 2 bay leaves 1 tsp. dried thyme 2 tsp. dried sage 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 5 cups water or vegetable stock 5 tsp. vegetable stock bouillon powder (omit if using stock above) 1 large onion, diced 8 large carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds 1 celery stalk, diced 12 oz. red potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces 1 lb. pork sausage 1/4 cup gf all-purpose flour 1 large acorn squash Extra virgin olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup frozen peas
- In a large slow cooker, add the soaked and drained beans, bay leaves, thyme, sage, black pepper, stock, onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, and mushrooms. Turn to the highest setting.
- While the beans and vegetables are beginning to heat, sauté the pork sausage in a medium skillet, until browned. Drain off the fat, and add the sausage to the slow cooker. When the mixture begins to bubble, turn it down to medium. It can bubble away for the better part of a day (mine cooked for 10+ hours).
- About an hour before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds and string. If necessary, cut off a small slice from the top so it will set flat on a plate. Dabble a bit of olive oil into the squash halves and rub it all around with your fingers. Then season the squash with salt and black pepper. Place the squash upside down in a glass baking dish and bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until soft.
- Thirty minutes before serving, stir in 1/4 cup flour and frozen peas into the soup. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover again and continue cooking until ready to serve and the squash is soft.
- Remove squash from the oven. Flip the halves onto a plate. Break up the center and edge of the squash with a fork; this way it will melt into the soup better, as you’re eating it. Ladle the soup into the squash bowl, and serve.