February 3, 2011

Slow-Cooker Sausage & Spinach Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings for Project Sam {Naptime Everyday}

Sausage Soup

What’s Going on Today: Manic Monday, pre-school spring social auction meeting, gym, groceries, weekend laundry!

Naptime Goals: Make dumplings, assemble soup in slow-cooker and brainstorm for school fundraiser ideas.

Tonight’s Menu: Sausage & Spinach Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings, cheese toast.

More Great Slow-Cooker Recipes from Project Sam: Spicy Sausage Slow-Cooker Lasagna, Slow-Cooker Short Ribs Pronvencale.

The snowbank at the end of our driveway stands one foot higher than my SUV. I have been known to exaggerate from time to time, but I can assure you that is not the case here. If we get one more flake of snow before this stuff melts I am buying a one-way ticket south, as in Mexico-south, and kissing away shovels forever. You’ll know I’ve made good on this threat when I start writing about the naptime margaritas I make in my beach shack while my daughter naps in a hammock strung up between palm trees! I think after I’m finished writing this I might research affordable plane tickets. However, until my tropical beach dwelling fantasy comes true, you can still find me here, in snowy Connecticut, digging my daughter out of snow piles and slow-cooking up a storm.

This week I decided to work on a hot soup recipe for Project Sam. I was inspired to make it after reading the January Bon Appetit issue about winter greens. Unfortunately, the winter greens required for the recipe managed to elude me at the store, so I used baby spinach instead. The rest of the ingredients were basic and easy to find and the resulting meal was just the balm I needed to soothe my frazzled and frozen nerves.

I think the most time consuming part of slow-cooking is chopping the vegetables; a task I actually find to be somewhat meditative when done in a quiet kitchen. This soup requires moderate knife work which only took me about five minutes. While my daughter napped I chopped the onion and pressed the garlic and added them, along with the rest of the ingredients, to the slow-cooker. I then made the dumpling mixture and made sure the spinach was washed and dried. After those twenty minutes of labor were complete I happily got on with the rest of my day, stopping very briefly in the afternoon to mold the dumplings and set them to chill. About an hour before meal time I added the dumplings and spinach to warm soup, giving everything just enough time to cook before ladling it into our deep soup bowls. As I had hoped, the slow-cooker had worked its magic (that machine does seem a little magical, doesn’t it?) and a hot soup was ready to restore my sanity after a long day of shoveling and de-icing. It was even enough to convince me to hang tight for just one more day before running for the border. Which makes me think, I really ought to brush up on my tortilla soup recipe. (Also, many apologies for no webisode today – my computer memory had a hiccup and my iMovie wasn’t working this week!)


Slow-Cooker Sausage & Spinach Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

adapted from Bon Appetit


For the Dumplings

¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup whole milk
1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup chopped green onions

For the soup:

1 ½ cups chopped onion
large garlic cloves, pressed
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 pound andouille sausages, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
28 ounces diced tomatoes in juice
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 12-ounce bag baby spinach


For the Dumplings: Whisk the first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Stir in milk and butter, then green onions. Let stand at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Using wet hands, shape the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, into 18 dumplings, arranging on sheet. The dumplings can be chilled for up to one day.

For the soup: in the slow-cooker add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and sausage. Then pour in the broth, tomatoes with juice, and allspice. Turn the slow-cooker to low heat and cook for 3 hours. At the two hour mark switch the slow-cooker to high heat and add the greens to the simmering soup. Cook greens uncovered 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, drop in dumplings and simmer until they are tender and cooked through. About 1 hour. Season soup with salt and pepper. Ladle soup and dumplings into bowls.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This soup is a meal in itself and barely needs an accompaniment. I served it with a side of cheese toast, but that was just something extra for taste.

Naptime Stopwatch

30 minutes prep time (all included), 3 hours cooking time.

Naptime Reviews

My daughter was fascinated with the dumplings, but not with the spinach! Oh well, I know if I just keep introducing it she’ll eat it eventually.