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Mar 4 '12

Sunday Soup Session

Mmmm. Soup. I love soup, don’t you? It’s just perfect. My favorite day to cook soup is Sunday. It can simmer in it’s deliciousness all day long, and I can taste it every few hours, adding ingredients as I see fit. And it makes the whole house smell divine. If you don’t realize it because you have been in it all day, then go outside, yes outside in the rainy cold, then come back in. Breathe deep. That’s your soup. And it smells awesome.

What’s the soup du jour? It’s the soup of the day:

Sausage and White Bean Stew with Kale (from Better Homes & Gardens March 2012)

1lb great Northern Beans, picked though, soaked overnight in water, drained and rinsed

8-9 cups homemade chicken stock (had some in the freezer from poaching that chicken!)

3 Tbsp + 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups diced onion

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup peeled & diced carrot

1 1/2 tsp finely minced garlic (I may have doubled-ish that!!)

1/4 tsp dried thyme (I also threw in about 1 tsp fresh minced toward the end)

1 14.5oz can whole, peeled tomatoes, drained and hand crushed

1 bunch kale washed and stemmed (about 8 cups)

1 lb. smoked sausage such as kielbasa or andouille, cut into 1/2 ” slices

1. In large heavy stockpot, combine drained and rinsed beans, 8 cups stock, and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 30-45 min.*, until beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding stock if the level is below top of beans. Beans should move about easily in the stock.

2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat the 3 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Cook onion is oil until translucent, stopping before onion browns. Add celery, carrots, and garlic; sprinkle with a pinch of salt and dried thyme. Still well and cook 5-7 minutes. (this is a good time to turn on the water for step 3) Add crushed tomatoes (I drained them, crushed each one by hand and tossed them in -easy!); season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook 5 minutes longer, then add to simmering beans.

3. In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook kale for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out any remaining water and coarsely chop.

4. Rinse and wipe out skillet. Heat remaining teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat, and brown sausage on each side; 3-5 minutes.

5. When beans are tender, add in the kale and sausage. Simmer 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning (I used some smoked sea salt and fresh thyme here). Let stand 30 minutes or longer before serving to let flavors develop. 

*What’s the asterisk for you ask? It’s for the people like me who have the best intention to soak your beans overnight because you totally love to plan ahead, but then slip into a coma around 10pm only to remember in the shower the next morning that you, in fact, did not soak the beans overnight. I started the soaking process at about 9am, then drained, rinsed and started the simmering process at about 3:30, adding the veggies around 5ish and continued on with the recipe…then sat down to dinner at 6:30 with perfectly tender beans in my stew!

To round it out, I made some fresh butter rosette rolls and served with some raw veggies. Jordan and I have been on a salad only dinner/lunch diet for the last two weeks (yes, except family dinner) and I thought we deserved a little bread in our life! Yum. I think I will have another with some homemade jam. Right now.

Take the time to give dry beans a new lease on life as a stew. Canned definitely has place in soups and stews and lots of other dishes…but please, for me, make it this way. It’s so delicious and the starches that are released as they cook give the broth a certain richness that cannot be achieved with that canned business. If I didn’t screw it up with the whole not-soaking thing, neither will you!

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