When Nature Hands You Snow

Just as the sidewalks in my neighborhood were getting clear enough that the dog and I could get a swift pace going when out for our daily walks, Mother Nature (or is that Old Man Winter?) decided to dump another pile of snow on us. So it's back to tentative steps and trying to find good ways to cope with what has become a seemingly endless winter. My solution? Soup. This time around, it takes the form of a simple Sausage-Potato Chowder:

In addition to the weather inspiration, this soup was born out of a desire to dip warm chunks of pumpernickel bread into a creamy soup. If I'd had some kale on hand, I would have coarsely chopped that and stirred it into the soup about fifteen minutes before I was ready to serve it. As it was, I didn't have kale, but there were no complaints. I used a pretty standard pork sausage, but you could opt for mild Italian sausage or maybe even something with a little heat, if that's your thing. I used red potatoes, but you could really use any kind you have on hand and enjoy.

I've included instructions for thickening the soup if the consistency isn't what you are looking for. I tend to make large batches of soup and enjoy the leftovers for lunches, so I prefer to leave my chowders slightly runnier than most favor. That way, when I'm reheating the soup in a day or two, I don't need to dilute an over-thick soup. The instructions for thickening will work for any soup or sauce you want thicker.

So how long am I going to be looking at snow out my window? Well, the weekend forecast calls for - you guessed it - rain. But that's supposed to be followed by more snow on Monday … so, in the end, it just means that it's March in Wisconsin. And when nature hands you snow, make soup!

Sausage-Potato Chowder

  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 4-5 large red potatoes - washed and chopped
  • 8 c. chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T. Herbs De Provence
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 c. half and half

In a large stockpot, brown the pork sausage with the garlic and onion. When the sausage is entirely browned, add the potatoes, chicken stock, bay leaves, and Herbs De Provence. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Remove the bay leaves.

Carefully swirl in the cream cheese, stirring until it is entirely incorporated into the chowder. Add the half and half and stir to combine. Serve hot.

If the thickness of the chowder isn't to your liking, you can thicken it with a corn starch slurry. Stir together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of cold water until a white paste forms. Stir that into the simmering soup until the desired thickness is reached.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes