So today when I’m not feeling so hot, my first thought is always chicken soup. But I call this slow cooker Italian sausage soup my “postmodern chicken soup” because it is chicken soup, kicked up about ten levels.
A big part of my grandma’s chicken soup was noodles. Of course, I eat Paleo, so drop the noodles. But, I’m not just left with a bowl of chicken and broth. The first way this recipe bumps up chicken soup is by adding tons of vegetables. There are the normal chicken soup ones – carrots, celery, and onions – but there are some new additions (which might remind some people of Italian wedding soup): tomatoes, zucchini, and spinach.
The tomatoes add a bright, almost citrus flavor to every bite. The zucchinis, while adding vitamins and nutrients, also make a good substitution for noodles, I think. My grandma always used bowtie noodles, so zucchini pieces are about the same size and have a similar tender chewiness, so you really won’t miss the noodles at all anyway.
And finally, spinach – one of the kings of the vegetable world. Spinach has tons of iron. And you know what Popeye says about spinach – it will make you strong! (There’s actually some truth to that, with all the iron it has!)
Also, instead of using regular chicken, this recipe uses Italian chicken sausage. It has all the great protein of regular chicken, but the flavor is kicked up with traditional Italian sausage flavorings: fennel, garlic, oregano….YUM. You could use pork Italian sausage, but then of course it wouldn’t be chicken soup! And I’m a fan of the chicken because it has all the protein, with less fat. Perfect for Paleo eaters.
In this recipe, you simply get the sausage out of its casing – no need to make meatballs because when you brown the sausage, it crumbles into little balls anyway. If you’re having trouble getting the sausage out of the casing, it is actually easy to do if you just snip the end of the sausage with kitchen shears (make sure to wash them before putting them back in the drawer!) or a sharp knife, and then squeeze the sausage right out of the casing.
Make sure you brown your sausage and cook your veggies according to the recipe before you put everything into the slow cooker. It won’t totally ruin it if you don’t, but, trust me, you’ll have a much more developed flavor if you take this step. It will have that extra something and the flavors will all blend together better if you follow the browning instructions.
With all the vitamins and minerals in the veggies and all the protein in the chicken, whether you’re healthy or feeling a bit under the weather, this is, in fact, the ultimate get well soup. It has everything you need to keep your energy up and your immune system running its best, so eat up!
- 1 pound Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
- 5 large carrots, sliced
- 2 medium zucchini, cut in half and sliced
- 4 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups spinach, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or 4 cups hot water and 4 homemade instant bouillon cubes
- salt, black pepper to taste
- In a large Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the sausage and brown it.
- Add the celery, carrots, tomato and zucchini and mix.
- Add the soup and dried oregano, mix and cover with a lid.
- If you are using a slow cooker, after cooking the onions and browning the sausage, transfer the mixture in a slow cooker, add all ingredients except spinach and cover with a lid.
- Cook 2 ½ hours on low.
- Remove the lid, add the spinach and cook for 30 more minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, add chopped parsley, mix and serve.