Slow Cooker Italian Sausage and Potato Soup

This creamy, warm soup eats more like a stew -- it's thick, rich and stick-to-your-ribs good. It freezes well and reheats beautifully. You can assemble the soup, refrigerate for up to 24 hours, and cook when ready to serve. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 4 hours 0 minutes

1 pound Spicy or Sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, rinsed and chopped
6-8 small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
1 quart chicken stock
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Handful of freshly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat one tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet to medium-high on the stove top. Add sausage and break into chunks with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook until sausage is no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes. Once cooked through, transfer sausage to a 4 quart slow cooker and drain fat from the pan.

In the same pan, add the remaining oil. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables begin to soften and become fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Once vegetables are cooked, add a splash of stock to the pan, making sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Add vegetable mixture to the slow cooker.

Add potatoes, remaining stock, Italian seasoning and cream or half-and-half to slow cooker. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, until the potatoes become fork-tender and the soup begins to thicken. Taste to adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.