This is no ordinary pumpkin squash soup. It’s a brothy, lush, flavorful cross between a traditional Italian wedding soup and a classic Greek Avoglemono, but made with diced sugar pumpkin, mini meatballs, pearl couscous and a lemony spiked broth. This pumpkin sausage soup is a must make at least once or twice this season.
Another pumpkin soup recipe?
I’ve got several pumpkin and squash soup recipes on the blog, like this curried pumpkin soup, or this creamy butternut squash soup, or this Thai-style pumpkin squash soup and this apple butternut bisque.
They’re all delicious with little ingredient swaps and tweaks that take the flavors in different directions. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re creamy, pureed soups. Like a bisque.
That’s not a bad thing, but I was in the mood for a fall-inspired, brothy soup. One that had pieces of identifiable pumpkin squash, and other tasty add-ins nestled in a rich stock.
That’s how this pumpkin sausage soup came to be… And it’s SO FREAKIN’ GOOD I need you to pinky swear RIGHT NOW that you’ll make it. Soon!
There’s sausage in this pumpkin soup and lots of other things…
Of course, there’s pumpkin in the soup… 3 cups of diced sugar pumpkin that you can actually see. But that’s really where the similarities end. Like I said before, this soup is a hybrid of Italian Wedding Soup and Greek Avoglemono. It’s the autumn-birthed love child of their union.
This homestyle soup is loaded with meatballs and pearl couscous like a traditional Italian wedding soup. Instead of fresh spinach, I sub lacinato kale (a.k.a. dinosaur kale). These ribbons of tender greens hold up better than spinach in the soup.
Stolen from the classic Greek avoglemono, is the swirl of whisked egg and the tangy citrusy lemon juice finish.
I can’t describe how wonderful it smells while it’s cooking or how completely irresistible the flavor is. The taste will literally compel your spoon back to the bowl for another bite. Seriously.
Ingredients you’ll need for pumpkin sausage soup
- Spicy Italian Sausage
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sugar Pumpkin
- Chicken Stock
- Bay Leaf
- Israeli Couscous
- Lacinato Kale
- Parmesan Cheese
- Lemon Juice
You wouldn’t think this humble list of ingredients could produce such a wow-worthy dish, but it does. Let’s make it.
The secret ingredient:
Spicy Italian pork sausage is one of my secret weapons for immediately creating depth of flavor in everything from casseroles to soups.
I love it because it’s so richly seasoned with fennel and crushed red pepper that the flavors are impossible to ignore. Plus porky sausage renders enough fat as you brown it, to be a flavorful way to keep the party going as you sauté the pumpkin and mirepoix.
Tips for making Italian sausage polpettes for the pumpkin soup
I’m always looking for shortcuts and methods that make cooking easier and I’ve found that using a melon baller to scoop out the bulk sausage gives me perfectly uniform and bite-sized balls that are ideal for this sausage pumpkin soup.
Just scoop a bit of the pork into the melon baller, and scrape it flat across your work surface so you’re ensured of getting an even amount. Then roll it into balls and set aside.
I recommend rolling out all of the sausage meatballs at one time, before cooking them. You may have to brown them in batches.
Note: You don’t need to cook the meatballs completely through, just brown the outsides. The inside will cook as they simmer in the hot soup.
How to make pumpkin sausage soup:
- Brown the sausage meatballs in a little olive oil and transfer to another dish.
- Add the pumpkin and mirepoix to the pot and sauté until tender.
- Add the meatballs back to the pot.
- Stir in the broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the pearl couscous and cook for 8-10 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped kale and simmer for 1-2 minutes or until wilted.
- Remove the pumpkin sausage soup from the heat.
- Whisk together the egg and parmesan cheese. Add a few tablespoons of the hot broth from the pot to the egg and whisk together.
- Pour the egg mixture into the pot while stirring.
- Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning.
Tips and Tricks:
- If you have homemade chicken or turkey stock, use it for this recipe as it will make it that much better. If you’re using store-bought, look for a good quality, low-sodium variety. Even though the soup doesn’t simmer for a long period, you’ll get more than enough saltiness with the Italian sausage.
- A good visual cue for knowing “when the vegetables are tender” is when the onions start to look a little translucent.
Why I added lemon
As I was making this soup the first time, I kept thinking it needed a little acidity. The richness of the broth and intense perkiness of the sausage meatballs gave the pumpkin soup a great umami flavor, but it needed something to balance it out.
I thought about using a can of diced tomatoes, but I didn’t want to mar the beautiful golden color of the soup with red. I debated using some dry sherry, or white wine, but I didn’t think it would be enough.
Then I thought about avoglemono and how a little lemon juice added just the right tang to that soup. It totally did the trick here too, hitting all parts of your palate at the same time. It’s simultaneously, rich and hearty, tangy and light with enough heat to tickle your nose.
Variations and swaps:
- You don’t need to use pumpkin for this recipe. Feel free to use cubes of butternut, acorn, delicata (no need to peel delicata) or other squash.
- For a lighter soup, swap chicken or turkey Italian sausage for the pork. (Note: it’s less fatty, so you may need to add a little more olive oil to sauté the veggies.
- Pearl couscous, otherwise known as Israeli couscous is really just a ball-shaped pasta. Other small pasta will work here too. Try: pastina, stars, alphabets (fun for the kids), orzo or ditalini.
- If you can’t find lacinato kale, use regular curly kale or spinach (though if you use spinach, it wilts much faster, so no need to simmer.)
- Want to make it gluten-free? Use diced red potato instead of the couscous or pasta.
- Make it dairy free and delete the parmesan cheese.
- Want to make it vegetarian? Dice vegetarian sausage and sauté in olive oil. Swap chicken broth for vegetable broth.
Yes. Make the soup up to the point where you add the broth. Finish it just before serving by adding the pearl couscous, kale, egg, parmesan and lemon. That will keep the pasta tender but not overcooked and the kale will maintain it’s bright green color and a bit of chew.
In my experience… not long. But that’s because it gets eaten up very quickly. If you and your brood can show more restraint, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Yes. Freeze it in individual-sized storage containers for up to 3 months.
What goes with pumpkin sausage soup?
I highly recommend serving this with hot, homemade popovers (that’s what I made), but here are some other great options.
- Homemade Crescent Rolls
- Parker House Rolls
- Parmesan Dinner Rolls
- Seasoned Fried Oyster Crackers
- 3 Ingredient Drop Biscuits
- Parmesan Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits
- Pecan Cheddar Crackers
- Anadama Rolls
More sausage soups you’ll love:
- Seafood Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Red Bean and Sausage Soup
- Tuscan Sausage Soup with Pasta, White Beans and Kale
- Black Bean and Sausage Soup
- Sausage Escarole and White Bean Soup
- Crazy Good Italian Meatball Soup
- Instant Pot Hoppin’ John Soup
- Italian Pasta Fagioli
Pumpkin Sausage Soup
- 8 quart dutch oven
- melon baller (optional)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds bulk spicy Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion chopped into 1/2" dice
- 1 large stalk celery chopped into 1/2" dice
- 2 large carrots peeled and chopped into 1/2" dice
- 3 cups peeled, seeded and diced sugar pumpkin about 1/2 of a 3 pound pumpkin.
- 8 cups chicken stock preferably low sodium
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup Israeli couscous a.k.a. pearl couscous or other small pasta
- 1/2 bunch lacinato kale a.k.a. dinosaur kale, chopped
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 lemon juiced
- Use the melon baller to portion out equal scoops of Italian sausage. Roll the sausage into balls and set aside.
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a dutch oven. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook, turning occasionally to brown the outside of the meatballs. (Doesn't have to be cooked completely through as they will finish cooking in the soup.) Transfer the sausage meatballs to a dish and set aside.
- Add the onion, carrots, celery and pumpkin to the pot. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion is tender.
- Add the sausage back to the pot along with the chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the Israeli couscous and cook for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is starting to get tender, but isn't quite done. Stir the pot occasionally.
- Stir in the chopped kale and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- While the kale simmers, In a small bowl, combine the egg and parmesan cheese. Whisk together until well combined. Whisk 2-3 tablespoons of the hot soup broth into the egg mixture to temper the yolks slightly. Pour the egg mixture into the soup, while stirring.
- Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasonings, adding more lemon if desired.
- Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a slice of fresh lemon.