Monday, March 24, 2008

Potato, Sausage and Spinach Soup

I love stumbling on blogs with witty names by witty people. I found a soup recipe which appealed to me, from someone in the health care industry who shared my confusion: Why are so many hospital workplace cafeterias devoid of healthy food?

The subject was blogged by Glenna at "A Fridge Full of Food and Nothing to Eat" (Hah! Isn't that witty? I identify with this because I'm a grocery whore) over a year ago. She vowed to start brown-bagging it to assure she had better food choices during the day (I wonder how she's doing with that). I've been a master of the bento lunch, myself, for nearly two years now, and my love of home cooked and packed lunches has not decreased. If anything, I love it even more. I'm healthier, spend less (when I reigned in the bento lunch box purchase mania, that is), and, when I *do* dine out at noon, it's a infrequent treat rather than a chore.

Enter Glenna's recipe for Red Potato, Sausage and Kale soup. I recognized that I had most of the ingredients on hand, I love soup for lunch, and it was healthy. I adapted it to suit the ingredients I had on hand, and a few preferences, and it's a winner -- both versions, I'm sure.

Let's get to boiling some soup...

First, I sauteed about 1/3 of a ring of low fat Turkey Keilbasa in a deep stock pan, with a bit of olive oil, and a thinly shaved red onion. I know the sausage is fully cooked, but I need some brown bits and edges to convince myself it's worthy of eating.

Now we've got a nice browned bottom and the sausage is crispy on some pieces. Perfect. I tossed in a few diced garlic cloves, and some celery and celery leaves.

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. Before I came to loathe Rachael Ray, I saw an episode of her loathesome show where she was making one of her 30 minute recipes with an annoying hybrid name: "Stoop" or some bullshit like that. She caught my attention when she said "Don't toss out your celery greens, they have loads of flavor so keep 'em in." This is hardly unique to RR (or any good cook, even), but she was the first of the chefs I saw performing this trick, and mentioning it, and I've done it ever since. That ends any props I give to She Who Has Millions But Apparently Cannot Find or Afford a Decent Bra for Crap's Sake.

Next, I added 2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth and brought that up to a rapid boil. I added quite a few (measure? I dunno. More than a few but not a whole bunch -- perhaps 2 cpus) rough chunked small red potatoes, and additional herbs. I love thyme and it grows with abundance in my garden, so I added fresh thyme and rosemary. The aroma began to waft, the stock was a deep brown (all that browned sausage no doubt) and it was already tasting pretty good.

After the potatoes were cooked most of the way, but were still firm to the tooth, I added one cup of fat-free half and half. I know, I know ... "There is no such thing as fat-free cream." I know. But I must admit, I'm consistently surprised with how "okay" fat free half and half is. You know why? Because they got the texture right. It doesn't taste fake to me, doesn't have a weird gelatinous texture like some fat free dairy products have, and tastes pretty okay when it isn't consumed by itself, or as a primary ingredient. I wouldn't, for example, pour it over berries, but a few tablespoons is just fine for pan drippings, soup, a protein shake, and similar recipes. In goes a cup of fat free half and half, with a quick stir.

After that simmered for approximately 30 minutes to further soften the potatoes. I began to deviate from Glenna's recipe pretty substantially here ... because I love mushrooms in my soup. I added an 8oz container of button mushrooms, cut in half, and, more thyme and a few hard shakes of Penzey's Salt Free Mural of Flavor. I'm a recent convert to Penzey's Spice Blends. Boy that stuff is good, isn't it?

At this point, I was readying my greens (in this case, baby spinach) to add, and started thinking about bacon going so well with spinach. Hmmm, don't I have two cold pieces of ready-cooked bacon in the fridge, taking up space? Yes, I do. So, I quickly decided to snip two pieces of cooked bacon into the brew.

After that addition, I knew I'd be adding SuperFood spinach, so I decided to add another SuperFood to the brew. I read some articles recently about Dr. Pratt's 17 super foods, and a recommendation to try and eat at least 10 of those per day. There were a few articles posted by nutritionists who decried Dr. Pratt's SuperFoods Rx plan, one going so far as to say "There is so much wrong with his plan I don't know where to begin." Hmm. Isn't that your job, to know where to begin? Ms. Nutritionist? How can you argue with yogurt, salmon, yams, blueberries? He isn't saying to eat nothing but 17 foods. He's saying to try and enrich your diet with these 17 SuperFoods. So I'm going to give it a try, starting with adding a big hunk of yam, sliced thinly so that it could quickly cook with the rest of the soup, because I added it far too late in the game to otherwise catch up with the big chunks of red potato.

Next I tossed in the contents of an 8oz bag of SuperFood baby spinach. Glenna calls for Kale, which is also a SuperFood, but I had baby spinach on hand, which I purchased to try and get in the habit of using it in place of lettuce in salads and on sandwiches. Ordinarily, I'm an iceberg lettuce girl through and through. What my dad liked, we ate.

That wilts down fairly quickly, obviously, so once the spinach is soft and tender, your soup is ready.

Mmmm. Delicious!

Red Potato, Spinach, and Sausage Soup

  • 1 link of turkey keilbasa, sliced
  • 1 small to medium onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk of celery and leaves
  • 2 cups of rough chopped red potatoes
  • 1/2 of a medium yam, chopped
  • Seasonings to your taste
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 cup fat-free half and half
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • 8 oz spinach leaves

Saute keilbasa and onion until well browned. Add garlic clove, celery and leaves, and seasonings to your taste, just until combined and aromatic. Pour in 2 quarts of chicken broth and bring to a boil, and add yam and potatoes. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Stir in half and half, and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until somewhat thickened and reduced. Adjust seasonings as you go, to your taste. Near serving time, add mushrooms and spinach leaves. When wilted and cooked, serve.

Verdict: Fantastic

Skill: Moderate

Repeat: Most definately

Shout Out: To my beloved, for getting me a proper digital camera. I love you dearly for tolerating this silly hobby of mine.


  1. OMG, YUM! I love that you added the mushrooms and the bacon. Sounds soooooooo good. I'll do that next time. And hey, I substitute spinach for kale too. I did that on St. Pat's day with my colcannon.

    (Thanks for the mention)

  2. that looks so, so good. i'm with you on the browning-even-though-its-cooked thing, i do that with the andouille i use in my lentil soup.

    and seriously, rachael ray. you get paid enough, hire a damn stylist already.

  3. I do the Chorizo, Potato & Kale version & just love it especially with homemade crouton, love your variation

  4. Hi,
    Saikat from BlogsJam here.
    Wanted to email you, but could not locate your email address on the
    blog. we have 2 cool widgets ( a slideshow widget and a content widget
    ) which can help enhance site interaction and reader's experience. pl contact me at so that i can send you the slideshow widget for your blog.