And just like that, Fall has arrived in the Salty City (not officially, but at least according to the thermometer). As I write this, the temperature outside is 55°F, it’s been drizzling all morning long, and the birds are chirping wildly. I live for these days – days of impending weather change, signaling another season on its way.
These are magical days, fleeting and scarce. Perhaps it’s the scarcity of them that makes me so excited. Fall in Utah is much too short, but achingly beautiful and magical. These are soup days. I’m kicking off the arrival of cool weather with Chicken Sausage, Potato and Spinach Soup. Because of course, it’s all about the food here.
I’ve been so looking forward to making soup, but the hot weather has been lingering on here in the West. So, earlier in the week, when I saw lower temps on the horizon, I immediately began planning my first soup of the season. Normally I would have chosen a vegetarian soup, but my kids are here this week (they live with their dad every other week) and my girls are most definitely carnivores. It hurts my vegetable-loving heart that my offspring still haven’t come around to embracing vegetables in all their delicious glory. But, miraculously, they love this soup, and will devour every last leaf of spinach without as much as a peep (insert applause here).
This soup is amazingly flavorful, yet uses a minimal amount of ingredients, making it a perfect weekday meal. You begin by sautéing the onions until they become translucent, adding the garlic, the potatoes and then the broth. Once the potatoes are fork tender, you’ll want to smash them a bit to thicken the broth, but keep some of the potatoes whole (if you like) for some extra texture.
To make this soup healthier than other versions I’ve seen, I use chicken sausage. For this version, I used both chicken bratwurst and buffalo (spicy) chicken sausage. I was able to find minimally processed sausage with only ingredients I could pronounce and zero preservatives. Not an easy task, but well worth it. I cook the sausage in a separate skillet – this allows the meat to brown and the flavor to intensify. I add the meat after the soup is finished cooking to keep the flavor from leaching out and to keep the meat from turning rubbery. Remove the sausage from the casing first and break the sausage up into small pieces (I like to keep mine in little meatball size chunks, but you could certainly break it up into smaller bits). Brown the chicken in batches to prevent crowding. Overcrowding the pan will prevent proper browning of the meat. It’s definitely worthwhile to take the extra step of browning in batches.
Once the potatoes are cooked, and after you’ve mashed a few of them, you’ll add your chicken sausage to the soup. and simmer lightly for another five minutes.
To keep the spinach from overcooking and disintegrating into the broth, you’ll add it at the very end and cook the soup for about three to four minutes longer – no more.
I served the soup with some crusty garlic bread and there were oooohs and aaaahs all around. Best part? We had enough leftovers to have another round of soup the next day, and there were no complaints. That’s two weekday WINS!
Chicken Sausage, Potato and Spinach Soup
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic crushed
- 4 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 8 cups of chicken broth
- 6 links of chicken sausage casings removed
- 6 cups of loosely packed baby spinach leaves or other leafy green such as kale, collard greens or chard (stalks removed, chopped into bite size pieces)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Remove the sausage from its casing and break up into smaller pieces of your choosing. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil. Test the oil by dropping a little bit of the meat into the pan – if it sizzles, the pan is ready. Add half of the sausage to the skillet, making sure not to overcrowd the pan (depending on the size of your skillet, this may take more than two batches). Brown the meat on all sides and remove to a plate. Add another Tbsp of oil to the pan and continue browning the second batch the same way. Set meat aside.
- In a large stockpot, sauté the onions in the rest of the oil over medium low heat until transparent, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat slightly and add the crushed garlic, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Add the potatoes and 8 cups of chicken broth to the pot. Adjust the heat up to bring the broth to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- With a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes until desired chunkiness is achieved (leaving some of the potatoes whole for added texture). Add the sausage to the soup and cook another five minutes. Add the spinach and cook another 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.