Why Bad Soups Happen To Good People [Plus: My Newest Kitchen Gadget!]

Usually I put the name of the dish I’m writing about in the title of the post, but if I were to do that here you’d probably say: “Ummm, Adam, it’s Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Soup. That’s gross. Of course it’s nasty.” And, inevitably, if I linked to it you’d discover its source: Emeril Live. You’d judge me cruelly and take away my foodie license. But for what it’s worth, here’s the finished product:


It doesn’t look bad, I’ll concede, but it’s not a soup I’d make again and it’s certainly not one I’d recommend. Mostly, it just tastes bland; and when it doesn’t taste bland, it tastes like sausage—but not good sausage, just greasy and a bit grimy. It reminds me of the episode of Roseanne where Becky has a hangover and Darlene’s trying to make her puke. “You know when you bite down into a sausage, and there’s that little hard bit?”

Right, so I’m not selling you on the soup. Why in the world would you want to click to read more? Enter at your own risk. [NOTE: If you do enter, you’ll get to see my newest kitchen gadget!]

Did you enter for the gadget? Well here it is. Purchased three days ago at Bed Bath and Beyond, it’s an immersion blender! (Cue applause).


That’s right: no more hot liquid spraying out of my porous food processor. Now when I make soup, all the blending happens in the pot. Which is precisely why I sought a recipe tonight that required blending. I typed “soup” in at foodtv.com and then ranked by rating. This Emeril soup is one of their top rated. What does that tell you about Foodtv.com readers?

Well, let’s not judge. There are Barefoot Contessa recipes at foodtv. Emeril–poor Emeril–called an Ewok by Anthony Bourdain; called incompetent by Amanda Hesser–I thought I’d give him a shot. The soup sounded intriguing. I really didn’t have a sense what a butternut squash sausage soup would taste like. Aren’t you at least a tiny bit curious?

The best part about shopping for this soup was the already cut up butternut squash at Whole Foods. This cost less than $3 and I think it’s well worth it. Peeling a butternut squash is a pain in the ass and this makes your life simpler.


And these are sweet Italian sausage, still in the casing:


This is the first time I cut open the sausage and removed the filling for a recipe in my career as a sausage eater. I found it oddly satisfying. To quote Hannibal Lecter: “Bowels in, bowels out.”

And then of course there was the chopping of onions—one large onion—which gets added to the sausage after the sausage browns.


To that you add garlic, marjoram and sage—also chopped.


After that’s cooked for a minute, you add 6 cups of chicken stock and the butternut squash—which you’ve roasted in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.


Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes. You’ll come back and it’ll look like this:


Now’s the fun part. I’ll admit, maybe I had a little too much fun using my new immersion blender. I blended with gusto. First I lowered the blender into the hot soup—-I am not pushing the “blend” button because I don’t want to get splashed:


(Is my arm hairy? Should I shave it?)

Then, once at the bottom of the pot, I blitzed away.


It was terrifically satisfying. When I was done, I had this:


Which I strained into another pot:


Added cider vinegar and cream:


After which I tasted and thought: “All that work for THIS?”

It was bland and icky, though slightly sweet. It needed salt. I added some. I tasted again. “Mweh. Better.”

(Do you like the word “Mweh”? I invented it.)

The next part of the recipe was really cool. I’m going to use this trick again for other recipes, if I ever have leftover sage.

You take three Tbs butter and put it in a small saucepan on medium high heat. Wait for it to melt and then watch the corners. When they turn brown, add a bunch of sage leaves. They will sizzle.


Cook for a minute or two—until crisp—and then drain on paper towels.


That’s the garnish for your soup and it’s probably the best part of the whole experience. In the future, we will avoid Emeril recipes (unless they come recommended by reliable sources), avoid sausage and butternut squash pairings, and restrain our need to blend things with an immersion blender unless we enter an immersion blender talent competition. If that’s the case, we will blend with lots of flair to Shania Twain music.

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