This is the time of year when I’m usually trying to figure out if this is the coldest, longest winter that I can remember in Texas. I know it’s not… and it really was barely 2 months ago that I was whining about the lack of a real fall in Texas. But it’s cold. For Texas. And that sends us running for soup and chili and stew.
One of our favorite meals in rotation right now is this Chicken & Sausage Stew. It’s one of my favorites because 94% of the work is done before noon – an awesome thing since I seem to be impressively unmotivated these days. The two picky-ish eaters in the house usually go back for seconds. Voluntarily. For a dish that has the word “stew” and spinach in it.
That’s probably because it doesn’t fall into that “it tastes like every other stew that comes from the crockpot” category. I really hate that category.
I lightened up the recipe a bit by reducing the flour and using low-fat chicken broth and 95% fat-free smoked turkey sausage. It still makes a nice and hearty stew perfect for a busy, cold day.
And the 3 days after that.
Slow-Cooker Chicken & Sausage Stew
A lighter, hearty stew perfect for a busy, cold day.
2 lbs chicken (I used a mixture of boneless breasts & thighs)
1 Tbsp olive oil
14 oz light smoked turkey sausage, 1/2-inch rounds cut in half
2 large onions, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
3 cups low-sodium/reduced-fat chicken broth, plus more as needed
2 bay leaves
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
Parmesan, for serving
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and transfer (in batches) to the skillet to sear ~2-3 minutes on each side.
Transfer the seared chicken to the slow cooker.
Reduce heat just a bit and pour off all but 1 Tbsp of fat from the skillet (add additional olive oil if necessary) and add the onions.
Cook just until beginning to brown, ~5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and cook 1 more minute.
Stir in the flour and cook for 1 more minute.
Slowly whisk in the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Whisk in 1 cup of the broth until smooth and then transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the remaining 2 cups of broth, the bay leaves, and the cannellini beans. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 4-6 hours on low.
Remove the chicken and shred/cut into small pieces and return to the slow cooker.
Discard the bay leaves and skim off any fat on the surface.
Stir in the spinach and sausage, cover, and let cook another 10 minutes to warm through.
Additional broth can be added to stretch the stew or adjust consistency, if necessary.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated parmesan.
Can we pretend that I just didn’t use the word “stew?” Because half of the adults in this house turn a sickly shade of green at the very mention of the word.
I’ll admit, it’s not the most appetizing word. And maybe it doesn’t always conjure up the most appetizing images. But contrary to what my husband thinks, there is a such thing as good stew. A hearty beef stew and a glass of red wine is not a shabby way to end a cold and grey winter day.
Only we don’t call it “stew” in this house, because my husband won’t eat “Italian beef stew.” But he’ll polish off a second helping of “Italian beef in the crockpot.”
But what’s in a name anyway, right?
Crockpot Italian Beef Stew
A hearty beef stew made in your crockpot/slow cooker.
2 Tbsp cooking oil, divided
2 lb beef round roast
1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 large carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces (split in half if they
8 oz red potatoes, skin-on, quartered
1 14.5 oz can reduced-fat/sodium chicken broth
6 oz tomato paste
1 cup red wine
4 clove garlic, minced
1 sprig rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
2 sprigs each thyme, and oregano (or 1/2-1 tsp each dried)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large pan over high heat until very hot.
Cut roast into 2-inch chunks and season with salt and pepper.
Add half of the meat to the pan, searing for 1-2 minutes, until nicely browned, before flipping or stirring.
Sear for another 2 minutes and use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to the crock.
Repeat for remaining meat.
Add onion, potatoes, carrots to the crock pot.
Add the chicken broth, wine, and tomato paste (I dropped it in by the spoonful and let it distribute while cooking).
Top with garlic and herbs.
Cook on low for ~8 hours.
At the end of the cooking time, remove 1/4 cup cooking liquid and whisk in cornstarch until smooth.
Stir slurry into the crockpot, cover, and let cook for ~20 minutes.
Stir in the spinach and basil and serve.
Yields: 6 servings
Adapted from Better Homes & Garden
Estimated time: 8 hours 30 minutes
Calories: 351 | Fat: 6.6g | Fiber 3.9g | Protein 47.7g | Carbs 21.1g
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 8
I was super happy to put this on the menu this week. One, our oven is broken (waaah!) and that has really messed with my mind. And our menu. Second, I’ve posted the soup before and it was in dire need of a new photo. But really, it’s because the soup is freakin’ awesome.
The Pastry Queen’s Texas Tortilla Soup has been our go-to chicken tortilla soup recipe for the last 5 years. It’s broth-based, so it’s the rare Mexican food dish that won’t kill you with fat, calories, and sodium. But what really sets it apart from your average tortilla soup is that the body of the soup is built with roasted tomatoes.
Slow-roasting (or fast… depending on how much time you have) the tomatoes removes the excess water, concentrates the flavors, and caramelizes some of the sugars in the tomatoes. The tomatoes are then pureed and added to the broth. The resulting soup has far deeper flavors than the soup from your favorite Mexican restaurant. And topped with a little avocado, chopped onions, cilantro, and jalapenos, and a dollup of fat-free Greek yogurt, it’s wonderfully filling with far fewer calories than the Mexican restaurant soup.
Um, did I mention it’s good for you?
This is one of those great meals that you can make on Sunday and not worry about making dinner again until Wednesday. And it freezes beautifully. One batch feeds us for 3 nights. We usually split a grilled cheese sandwich to go along with it, made with one of those small $.50 bakery baguettes, a couple slices of avocado, and shredded monterrey jack.
Thanks to Amanda for getting my husband so excited about going to the grocery store this week! You can check out the full recipe here and the other PPQ members’ take on the soup here.