It's Soup (and Alliteration?) Season: Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup Recipe

 Hey guess what.  It's winter again.  And with winter comes many guilty pleasures to pass the time and make the frigid temperatures  more bearable.  These guilty pleasures include Ugg boots (atrocious, but so cozy), Grey's Anatomy on the T.V., snuggies, and booze-spiked beverages that are otherwise completely innocent, like coffee, hot chocolate, and cider.  Hell, in winter, they even add stronger booze to already-boozy drinks! (see: port wine, mulled wine, and tequila-ed wine.  Ok, I made that last one up.)

Amidst all this decadence, it can be hard to eat healthy UNLESS you have a good stash of broth in your freezer for soups (which you should.  Shrimp shells, crawfish shells, crab shells, steak bones, chicken bones, lamb bones, turkey bones--they all make excellent stock with a little water and a long simmer. DO IT.)  Soups can take a not so fantastic out-of-season tomato and turn it into a dark, complex dish.  They can also take anything in your fridge and turn it into a meal with the right care and a stash of dried lentils nearby.

This soup recipe seems so simple and straightforward, it's hard to imagine that something sweet, spicy, fresh, and satisfying can result, but it does.  The sweet potatoes add body, color, and sweet earthiness to broth that's made richer with the sausage while brighter with the spinach.  All of this comes together in a satisfying, healthy soup.  This recipe is courtesy of Bon Appetite magazine, with some edits and notes of my own.

Satisfying Sweet Potato & Sausage Soup Recipe:

2 Tbs. olive oil 
10 oz. cooked linguiça sausage or chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see note below re: uncooked sausage, which I prefer here) 
2 medium onions, chopped 
2 large garlic cloves, minced 
2 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled, cut into 1/2 inch thick semi circles
1 pound baking (I use yukon gold) potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch thick semi circles
6 cups low-salt chicken broth 
1 9 oz. bag fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add cooked (see note below re: uncooked sausage) sausage; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a bowl. 

Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add all potatoes, reduce heat, and cook until potatoes begin to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes. (When things start burning on the bottom of the pot, I move onto the next step)  Add broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. 

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. Add browned sausage and any collected juices to the soup. Turn off heat. Stir in spinach just before serving.  Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

NOTE:  I made this soup with a buffalo and pork chipotle chorizo sausage that a friend gifted me and Mr. Luz. It was AWESOME and I'd recommend buffalo chorizo if you can find it.  The flavor's just amazing.  
Uncooked sausage is less compact than cooked sausages and therefore will absorb the broth for a more satisfying experience, though it adds one more step to the process.
To make this recipe with buffalo chorizo or some other uncooked chorizo, use vegetable oil instead of olive oil, and brown the whole chorizo in the oil.  If it still isn't cooked, add 1 inch of water to the pot, cover, and simmer until the sausages are firm but not hard. Remove the sausages to a bowl and slice upon cooling, being careful to retain any juices to add to the soup later. Boil off as much water as you can from the vegetable oil and sausage flavoring before adding the vegetables to the pot and commencing with the above recipe.   

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