Creamy Mushroom Soup with Spinach and Sausage
I’m a New England girl. I was born in California but moved to New England when I was small enough to not remember much from Cali and to grow up believing that within the 365 days of a year, one was supposed to experience the wonders that winter brings. Living in a region where the seasons change with utter distinction, and all of the foods and flavors that fit into a certain season rotate in and out of the farmer’s markets, and all of the recreational activities that you can participate in change depending on what sort of precipitation is happening outside of your window, is inspiring. Right now, winter in the mountains of Vermont, I’m really enjoying cozy-ing in with my fiance, watching my pup make snow angels, reading next to the fire, re-learning how to ski black diamonds, watching football (got Pats!), and cooking to fit the mood.
My current mood: healthy comfort. For me, comfort food doesn’t mean mac ‘n cheese and mashed potatoes. It never really did. I wasn’t the kid that ordered a big plate of fried chicken when in the mood for something to “hit the spot”. Comfort food means soups, stews, and dishes that need hours in the oven – dishes that I remember my mom making. Soups and stews and roasts are the dishes that you can smell hours out. THAT, is comfort to me. With anything that takes some time to cook, the flavors meld together and you can be as creative as you want. You can make it during the day and let those flavors get deeper and make everyone drool and dream about what’s for dinner. You can also be as healthy as you want without skimping on flavor and satisfaction.
This is how a typical soup recipe comes to be for me:
- Read a bunch of recipes.
- Look at a bunch of soup pictures.
- Decide what flavors I’m in the mood for.
- Head to the store and pick up whatever looks good.
- Make sense of it all at home.
It’s not straight forward but it usually works and it’s how this Creamy Mushroom Soup with Spinach and Sausage came into being. Comforting, satisfying, full of flavor but still healthy. The broth is creamy and decadent without having to use heavy cream, and the ingredients are fresh and flavorful.
When I’m eating sausage for sausage’s sake, I buy chicken sausage. For this recipe, I wanted some of the fat from a good pork sausage. It renders out when you cook it and you’ll drain the excess. I grabbed spicy pork sausage but mild will work, as will another good sausage like Andouille or Chorizo. The flavor profile will change slightly but grab what you like. Also, feel free to leave the sausage out completely if you want to make a Meatless Monday variation. Try adding chickpeas for extra protein.Fun fact: did you know that January is National Soup Month? In America, more than 10 billion bowls of soup are eaten each year. That’s a serious amount of soup.
A note about the cheese that I used. You can definitely go straight forward with grated Parmesan. My refrigerator happens to be stuffed with cheese (thank you mom, thank you dad, thank you Andy). So I grabbed a few different kinds and grated away. I went with a combo of Gruyere, Parmesan and Cabot Cheddar. I’m digging the depth the Parm and Gruyere give and the creaminess that is a guarantee from melted Cabot cheddar.
- ½ lb hot chicken or pork sausage, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 oz mushrooms, quartered
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 7 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 14.5 oz can low-sodium petite diced tomatoes, drained
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
- ½ cup light cream
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Slurry (1/2 cup flour mixed with water)
- Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning, until sausage has started to brown. Don’t worry if it is not cooked fully. Remove from pot and set aside in a bowl with paper towel to drain.
- In the same pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat briefly, then add mushrooms and onion. Season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Cook 15-20 minutes, until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated and the onions are turning translucent.
- Add garlic, flour and thyme. Cook, stirring continuously for 1-2 minutes.
- Deglaze with white wine. Make sure to scrap the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to get up all o what’s cooked on there – that’s flavor!
- Add broth, tomatoes, cheese and cream. Slowly bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, make your slurry by whisking a ½ cup flour with water until a thick, but pourable, paste forms. Make sure to get out all of the lumps.
- Slowly add your slurry into your boiling soup, whisking hard the entire time. Once incorporated, let the soup boil and thicken for about 1 minute. Turn the heat down to reduce boil to a simmer. Simmer 6-7 minutes.
- Turn off heat. Stir in spinach.
- Serve hot!