Oh my, was this a flavorful soup & we didn't even use any stock in it. A lot of the flavor comes from the seasoning in the sausage so, make sure your pick a really good one or even better grind & spice your own. The red pepper, which was a last minute addition, is also a prominent flavor. Finally, we use the cooking water from beans in the soup as well. In the last couple of months we've really come to love the flavor the pot liquor from cooking beans adds to soups & stew, don't throw it out! It probably helps that we use really good Rancho Gordo beans.
Italian Sausage & Bean Soup
1 c dried white beans (we used Rancho Gordo snocaps)
1/2 T olive oil
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1/2 red pepper, seeded & chopped
1/2 c chopped yellow onion
1 14/5 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes, juice included
1 T tomato paste
1/4 c red wine
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried oregano
Parmesan rind (optional)
About 3 hours before you want to make the soup start your beans. Rinse the beans & put them in a pot or crockpot with about 3 cups water. Let simmer for 2 - 3 hours until almost completely tender (I like to under cook mine a little since they will cook a little more in the soup).
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage & cook through, breaking up with a spoon while cooking. Add the peppers & onions. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes with juices, beans with their cooking liquid, tomato paste, red wine, basil, oregano & two cups water. If you are adding a Parmesan rind do it now as well. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste & season with salt as needed.
Serve with a good crusty bread. If you haven't used Parmesan rind you may want to sprinkle a little grated Parmesan on top.
Makes 6 - 7 servings
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