This soup definitely leads towards Italy with its Italian sausage & garlic. The crushed red pepper flakes give it a nice back of the throat heat without being spicy. The beans we used were Vallarta beans from Rancho Gordo. They are a rich, dense bean that added a lot of flavor. We find the broth from cooking the beans is such a good base for making soup that we don't even need to add stock. (Just one of the reasons to start with dry beans instead of canned.) Can't get Vallarta beans then try using a yellow eye or great northern or even a navy bean would be good.
I found this soup was even better after a night in the refrigerator so make it on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon & have a fabulous soup for lunch all week!
Sausage & Bean Soup
1 c dry beans (see post above for variety suggestions)
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 c diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 t marjoram
1/4 t dried thyme
1 t dried parsley
2 1/2 oz kale*, chopped
salt to taste
Parmesan curls for presentation
Rinse the beans. Put them in a crock pot or saucepan with 3 cups water. Let simmer covered until tender, about 2 hours or so. Set aside, do not throw out the cooking water.
In a large soup pot brown the sausage over medium-high heat until cooked through. Add the carrot, celery, onion & garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Stir in the red pepper flakes, marjoram, thyme & parsley. Add the beans, cooking water & kale. Add about 2 more cups water or enough to cover everything. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat & simmer for 15 more minutes. Add salt to taste.
Serve with a parmesan curl on the top of each bowl.
*A note about the kale: We blanch & freeze kale throughout the summer & fall to use all winter. The blanching makes it a little more tender thus it needs less time to cook in our soups & stews. If you are using fresh kale you may need to cook the soup slightly longer to get the kale tender or try blanching the leaves for a minute before adding them in.
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