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Cooking

Stand-up soups

Three winter warmers that will stick to your ribs.

Sausage, tomato, and squash minestrone.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Sausage, tomato, and squash minestrone.

On game day, when appetites rage alongside opinions and loyalties (or even just in a snowstorm), a big pot of hearty soup can keep everyone grounded, focused, and satisfied.

In the spirit of football, I see sausage as a team player in these soups, distinguishing itself among the flavors, but not necessarily dominating the whole. Tomatoes, squash, greens like broccoli rabe, and lentils — each contributes to a winning pot.

SAUSAGE, TOMATO, AND SQUASH MINESTRONE

Makes about 3½ quarts

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Adapted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook, by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1½ pounds fresh sweet Italian pork sausages

2 onions, chopped

3 ribs celery, thinly sliced

4 carrots, thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

Salt and black pepper

6 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1½ quarts low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups tomato juice

½ butternut squash, cut into ¾-inch cubes (about 4 cups)

1 14½-ounce can petite-cut diced tomatoes

1 19-ounce can red kidney beans, drained

1 bunch kale, chopped (about 6 cups)

2/3 cup small pasta

Grated Parmesan, for passing

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the sausages and cook until browned all over, about 7 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, cool, cut into ½-inch slices, and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pot, adjust the heat to medium, and heat until shimmering. Add the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt, and saute until soft and light golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth, tomato juice, and squash, adjust the heat to high, bring to a strong simmer, then adjust heat to medium-low and simmer until the squash is just tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

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Stir in the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, sliced sausage, and kale, adjust heat to high, and return to a strong simmer. Adjust heat to medium-low and simmer until the squash is fully tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the pasta, 2½ teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste, and cook until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve, drizzling each portion with oil and passing the Parmesan at the table.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP If you’re not serving the soup right away, avoid bloated pasta or rice by cooking separately and adding to the pot to warm just before serving.

SAUSAGE SOUP WITH RICE AND BROCCOLI RABE

Makes about 3 quarts

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 pounds fresh sweet Italian pork sausages, casings removed

2 onions, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 bay leaves

Salt and black pepper

6 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2½ quarts low-sodium chicken broth

cup long-grain white rice

1 bunch (about 1 pound) broccoli rabe, chopped into 1-inch pieces

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up, until it renders its fat, about 13 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium-high and cook until browned, about 7 minutes longer. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot, adjust the heat to medium, and heat until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots, bay leaves, and ½ teaspoon salt, and saute until soft and light golden, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper, and tomato paste, and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth, rice, and 2 teaspoons salt, adjust the heat to high, and bring to a strong simmer. Adjust the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is just tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage and broccoli rabe, and simmer until heated through and rice is tender, about 5 minutes longer. Remove and discard the bay leaves and add black pepper to taste. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary, and serve, drizzling each portion with oil.

LENTIL SOUP WITH SAUSAGE AND TOMATOES

Makes about 3 quarts

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¾ pound fresh pork sausages, such as sweet or hot Italian

1 onion, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dry red wine

1½ quarts low-sodium chicken broth

1 14½-ounce can petite-cut diced tomatoes

1½ cups Le Puy lentils

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the sausages and cook until browned all over, about 7 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, cool, cut into ½-inch slices, and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pot, return it to medium-high heat, and heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and light golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine, broth, tomatoes, and lentils, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, stir to mix, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves, stir in the mustard and sliced sausage, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley, adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve.

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