Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sausage Cheddar Chowder

My Mom traveled for her job about two or three times a year and when she did, we always stocked up on TV dinners, when you had to bake them in the oven because they came in aluminum foil...remember? There were one or two nights a week that we would go to my Grandmother's house for dinner. When that happened I knew what that would mean--soup. Specifically vegetable beef soup in a shallow wide mouthed bowl and crackers that's it nothing else. My Grandmother was a good cook, but when it came to soup it was horrible. This soup was watery, with clotty splotches of grease floating around. The chunks of meat were usually rubbery and tough to chew. It was not a great soup, but I had to eat it and pretend I liked it.
I've been recovering from the soup horror ever since I fell in love with the creamy and wonderful bliss of Broccoli cheese soup, baked potato soup, chicken augratin soup, and other cream soups that just call my name. To this long list of creamy soup love enters Sausage Cheddar Chowder. Sausage Cheddar Chowder is my take on a soup I found in one of my favorite cookbooks that Cindy calls, Texas Chowder. If I made her version without addition or deletion it would be delicious. If you don't have her cookbook you owe it to yourself to go to and buy it. There are no recipes in this cookbook that I wouldn't try once (even the duck! bad experience with the one and only time I ate duck...long story).

The cast of characters for my version are:

  • 1 cup of chopped onion (about the size or a baseball)

  • 1 cup of chopped celery (about 3 or 4 ribs)

  • 1 cup of chopped carrot (about 4 carrots)

  • 1 cup of red bell pepper (1 large)

  • 1/2 cup of butter

  • 2-10 3/4 ounce cans Cream of Potato Soup

  • 2 1/2 cups half & half

  • 1 Tablespoon Cavendar's Greek Seasoning

  • 1 Tablespoon of pepper

  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon of Chicken base (not a bullion cube, base by the soup section it comes in a glass jar)

  • 1 pound of sausage

  • 2-17 ounce cans of cream corn

  • 2 cups Cheddar Cheese

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Put sausage in a large stock pot and brown over medium heat. I use a potato masher to make sure the sausage is evenly cooked and crumbled, it works great for ground beef, too. Remove the sausage to a towel lined plate and set aside. If there is a lot of grease in the pot, pour some out (I didn't have that much grease, maybe a teaspoon if that). Place butter in the stock pot and melt, over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes until onion is clear. Season with Cavendar's Greek seasoning and fresh cracked pepper, stir. Add Worcestershire sauce and chicken base, stir well. Pour in soups, sausage, and corn then half & half. Stir well, reduce heat to medium-low or low (electric ranges will need low) add cheese and stir. Once the cheese melts and the veggies release more of their moisture the soup will thin out, it's rather thick at first, but does thin out, maybe 10 minutes more cooking on low heat, stirring often. The cheese and dairy in this chowder will scorch if you don't stir it often. This is the soup right before I added the chopped parsley. I didn't get a picture of the soup all dolled up, we had company and it was crazy.


  • Last night I made this ahead because we were having company over. I didn't have time to tend the stove, I placed the chowder in a crock pot on low, adding the parsley. This worked great because it heated the chowder and gave me plenty of time to get everything else done.
  • You could add a cup or so of frozen has browned potatoes (the cubed kind) and frozen corn if you wanted. I found that the chowder had good corn flavor, but did feel that the potato taste was not there, adding the hash brown potatoes would give it that potato kick.
  • You could use milk in this, with much thinner results over all. I opted for half & half, not because I'm hastening a heart attack, but because I wanted the rich velvet texture of a chowder that comes with addition of half & half...I could have used cream--Just sayin'.
  • The addition of celery, onion, and carrot in equal parts is called a Mirepoix. I think it's french but it will make you sound will savvy when you are telling your co-workers about this chowder you made with a mirepoix. Some might even think you are using some exotic endangered species so be careful if you see a game warden pull up to your office.

I served this soup with Green Chili Cheddar Corn Muffins and it was delicious. I have a soft spot in my heart for the muffins, as well as a weakness to not eat every last one of the little buggers. They couldn't be easier to make (no pictures, sorry).

Green Chili-Cheddar Muffins

2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread Mix

2 eggs

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 Tablespoon of fresh cracked pepper

2 cups, heaping shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 finely chopped onion

1 3oz can of green chilies (or jalapenos)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray your muffin tins with baking spray (it has flour built in--miraculous), set aside. Mix all ingredients together well. Using a large spring, loaded scoop, fill muffin cups half full. You will yield 21 muffins. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Cool for 1-2 minutes in the tins, to give the cheese a chance to calm down. Resist temptation to gorge your mouth full of the entire batch.

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