Friday, November 18, 2011

Tuscan Soup

Becca here with one of our favorite cool weather soups!  Please excuse my 'must use the flash' photo, since it gets dark here before we eat dinner, it's a necessary evil right now, so my soup doesn't look magazine ready, although I can assure you it does taste that way.  I first got this recipe from April Simpson nearly ten years ago, and I've changed it over the years considerably, but kept the same basic idea of potatoes, sausage, & spinach.  It's similiar to a soup of the same name that Olive Garden serves.  I love slow cooker soups for both the hearty taste & convenience of having dinner ready & waiting for me.  This recipes calls for Italian sausage, so feel free to use your family's favorite variety - our small town store carries turkey, as well as hot & mild in the traditional pork sausage.  I often prepare a double portion & put half in the freezer so next time it's already cooked & ready to go, making the soup prep even quicker.

This recipe serves 8 adults, or Becca's Family two times :)  For babies, I just use a slotted spoon to serve them the meat & veggies.  Yum!

2 quarts chicken stock (I normally use homemade, but your favorite chicken broth or stock is fine)
6 Italian Sausage links
1 yellow onion, chopped
7 cups diced potatoes  (I don't peel them, but you can if you prefer)
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (frozen spinach would do in a pinch)
1 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste (this will depend on what kind of stock & sausage you have chosen)

1.  Remove casings from Italian Sausages & brown in a skillet, along with chopped onion, over medium high heat until meat is no longer pink.  Drain well.
2.  In large slow cooker, combine chicken stock, prepared sausage & onion mixture, and potatoes.  Cook on low 8-10 hours, or high 6-8 hours, until potatoes are tender.
3.  Just before serving, stir in spinach and milk.

Note:  If I'm serving this to my family, I put the fresh baby spinach in the bottom of their bowls and pour the hot soup mixture over the top so that the spinach gets 'wilted' more than cooked well, and stir the milk into each bowl separately to cool it off a bit for the children.  I think this makes the leftovers especially taste much better than heating the soup up after it's all combined.

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