One of the most comforting meals in autumn and winter is a hearty soup. I’ve grown to love my slow cooker especially when it comes to soup recipes. Learning to make soup from scratch, without any carby fillers, has been a fun process, and today I present my favorite creation to date. As with most slow cooker recipes, this soup only takes a few minutes to prep and throw together and then cooks on low for several hours – low maintenance, my favorite. The key is using already smoked sausage; I don’t have to worry about checking the sausage is fully cooked, only that it is heated through. In this recipe I use linguica sausage which is a smoked cured pork sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika that comes from Portuguese-speaking countries. You could easily substitute kielbasa (Polish sausage) or any other smoked sausage you may prefer.
To start I plugged in my crock pot and set it to low. My slow cooker is very small compared to standard size crock pots; I am not the original owner, so I am not sure exactly how large it is, but comparing it to other models online it is probably a 2 quart pot. Because of this, my meals tend to cook much faster than typical slow cooker recipes. Since none of these ingredients need to be cooked to a certain internal temperature, it should not matter if you need to cook yours longer, just watch your soup to make sure it does not burn.
The only prep needed is to roughly chop the red onion, thinly slice the serrano chiles and slice the sausage into 1/2 inch discs. Serrano peppers look like a smaller jalapeno but still pack quite the punch – they land between 10,000 and 23,000 on the Scolville scale which is actually higher than the jalapeño. Because these are sliced and cook for an extended period of time, this soup does become pretty spicy – you can use less, leave them whole or omit them completely if you wish.
Finally I added the first handful, about one heaping cup, of fresh baby spinach on top and stirred once more. As is well known, spinach cooks down considerably, so I add this same amount 3 separate times throughout the cooking process in order to bulk up the soup. I absolutely love both fresh and cooked spinach and it goes so well in this soup.
I covered and let it cook 1 hour untouched before removing the lid. The liquid should become dark brown, as shown above, and the spinach and mushrooms should have cooked down. I replaced the lid and let it cook another hour after stirring.
After the 2nd hour, I added the heavy cream and tore the cream cheese into smaller pieces before adding it as well. I also incorporated another cup of fresh spinach before stirring and covering for another hour.
After the 3rd hour I removed the lid and stirred the soup. It should be pretty liquidy (a very scientific term) which many people prefer, however I enjoy a thicker, creamy soup, like a chowder, so I added 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum and stirred once more. Xanthan gum is the best low carb thickening agent and a little goes a long way, so use sparingly to avoid turning the soup into glue. I recommend adding a teaspoon at a time and letting it work its magic for a while before adding any more. Once the xanthan gum was added I let it cook for one more hour, a total of four hours, before the soup was finished. The flavors marinade so well together – it is spicy and flavorful and the sausage, mushrooms and onions leave a tasty bite in every spoonful. This soup is perfect with one of my jalapeño bacon biscuits and will be a comfort come those cold winter evenings. What are your favorite soups? Share with me in the comments below!