My mom has these rectangular glass snack plates with little divisions in them- kind of old fashion luncheon trays. On snowy days she would make us toasted cheese sandwiches for them. We'd sit on the floor; the hearth was the perfect height for a table. We'd dip the edges into tomato soup and nibble our sandwiches in front of the crackling fire. She'd give us our drinks in dainty red glass teacups that fit perfectly into the cup side of the plates. It felt so special and fancy. It was one of those small things moms do to make you feel loved. A hug from the inside out.
I try to do little things like that- I bought some of those plates a thrift store one time, but I never remember to use them. But hot soup on a snowy day? That I can do. Partly because I love soup but mostly because I love my people.
I got this recipe from my friend, Jamie, years ago. I had to adapt her recipe to make it a little more headache friendly. Here's how I make it.
Jamie's Italian Sausage Chowder (12-14 servings)
- 1 lb Italian sausage (I always use turkey Italian sausage)
- 1 C chopped green onion
- 1 C chopped celery
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 4 C chicken broth
- 4 C frozen hash browns (her recipe calls for O'Brien hash browns but onions give me headaches)
- 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tsp dried basil flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano flakes
- a heaping handful or two fresh spinach coursely chopped
- 1 1/2 C milk
- 1/3 C flour (optional)
- 1/2 C shredded good quality American cheese (the original recipe calls for cheddar, which I'm sure is WAY yummier, but it gives me headaches)
- salt and pepper to taste
Remove casings from sausage and put in a 6-qt soup pot. Cook until meat is brown, stirring frequently to crumble. Remove sausage, leaving drippings.
Add onion, celery and garlic to drippings and cook, stirring frequently until veggies are tender. Return sausage to pot and add chicken broth, potatoes, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in spinach and heat, stirring frequently, 5-10 minutes.
After all the spinach has wilted in to your satisfaction, add milk and cheese. If you'd like to make the soup thicker, stir the flour into the milk before you add it. I skip this step every time. Stir often until slightly thickened and cheese is melted. Watch carefully- you don't want the soup to boil after you've added the milk. It may separate. Add salt (if needed) and pepper to taste.
I have to say, adding the milk and cheese make this soup a slightly unappetizing color, but the creaminess they add are delicious.
Eat some soup, will ya? And then come over and finish this puzzle. I'm tired of it.