Sunday, February 28, 2010

Beans and Sausage Belong in Soup

Honestly, you guys, I don’t set out to cook cauldrons full of undifferentiated glop. This cauldronful is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the vat of stuff I made last post. This is bean soup, a magic soup full of protein and fiber and flavor. It will fill you up on a cold night. It will make your house smell so good.

Beth and I invented this soup because we wanted to make dinner for some friends. But we did NOT want to spend the last hour fussing in the kitchen while the friends stood about awkwardly, wondering if they should offer to help. The beauty of this soup is that it is easy to make. The secret of its deliciousness is in patience, not effort. Give it enough time on the stove for the vegetables to soften and melt a bit. The mellow bean flavor is punched up with sage and sausage*. Kale adds bright color as well as vitamins and minerals.

Add a salad and some good bread, and you’re done.

White Bean, Kale and Sausage Soup
Serves 6-8
Dry beans are more planning and monkey business than canned beans. Of course, they are correspondingly more delicious. You can soak and cook some extras, then pop them in the freezer to cut down your prep time for a future soup.

1 lb white beans: cannellini, great northern, or navy
2 bay leaves
4 peppercorns
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
8-12 oz sausage*: sweet Italian, hot Italian, andouille, chorizo; anything with garlic and/or chile
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
4-6 leaves of sage
Salt to taste

*If you are a vegetarian, then instead of sausage, get some olive oil, a chopped bulb of fennel, some cayenne, and some chopped parsley.

Soak the beans overnight.

The next day, put the beans and their soaking water in a soup pot. DO NOT discard the cooking water. All the deliciousness is in it. I don’t care what your mom said about how throwing out the water will reduce bean gas. It won’t. It will only reduce my regard for you. Don’t you step to me.

Ahem. Make sure there is enough water to cover the beans. Add the bay leaves and the peppercorns. Bring them to a boil, then simmer them until they are tender.

Keep a kettle of water on the stove while you cook beans. If they need more water, bring the kettle to a boil. Adding cold water to beans makes their skins tough. Passive-aggressive little sulkers, aren’t they?

Toss the carrots, onion, and garlic cloves in the pot. Keep simmering until these soften. The garlic should break down. You can stir this into the broth, which by now should be getting thick and creamy as the beans break down, too.

About an hour before you plan to serve the soup, add the sage.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage. Or heat the olive oil and saute the fennel bulb, adding the cayenne for the last few minutes. Put the frying pan contents in the soup, reserving the cooking fat.

Sauté the kale, then pour a half cup of water in the pan and cover it tightly. Turn the heat down and steam until the kale is tender, maybe 20 to 30 minutes. (Keep an eye on it so the pan doesn’t get too dry.) Stir the kale into the pot. If you have parsley, sprinkle it on top of each bowl of soup.



  1. The brilliance of this soup is the simplicity, really. Beans & greens are classic. And sausage is a natural pairing. Bet this gets better and better, depending on the quality of the sausage you use, no?

  2. OOOOOOOh, yeah, Lo. It gets better every day. Even if you don't use any sausage at all, it still gets better thanks to garlic, onions, and spices.

    I have the last bit of leftovers for my lunch today, and I fully expect to be fighting off coworkers with my spoon.

  3. Yummo Amy sounds absolutely delish.. will be trying this one.


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