White Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup
I’ve made a rendition of this soup a few times, and keep forgetting to write it down, so this is just the most recent version I made. You can experiment a bit with the type of beans to use, sausage flavors, different greens, etc. Whether you use dried beans or not is up to you – canned are just fine, but if you have the time to use the dried, they really do taste so much better. I may never use canned beans again! Other than the beans, the whole thing comes together fairly quickly. It is also gluten free, if that is important to you (though check your sausage, to be sure). Typically I would put carrots in here, but cooked carrots are a no no for two people in our family, so I used mushrooms here instead. Do whatever sounds good to you!
- 1 bag dried Great Northern Beans (small white beans are OK, but we find them to be the kind that gives you a gassy tummy. I’ve used garbanzo too)
- 3-4 links sausage – pick out a really good quality tasty sausage. My favorite have been with a turkey sausage, like Adele’s, but I did a pork/beef blend once and it was fine. I like my soup to be more veggie heavy and found 3 links to be plenty, but feel free to use all 4 if you want.
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, medium sized – chop it somewhat finely
- 1 lb Button Mushrooms – halve then slice them
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ - 1 tsp kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ - 1 tsp dried sage (or 2-3 tsp fresh)
- ½ - 1 tsp dried thyme (or 2-3 tsp fresh)
- 1 small bunch of Kale (or whatever your favorite dark green is – you may have to cook more/less, depending on the green) – pull the leaves off the thick ribs and tear them up. You’ll have 4-5 cups worth
- Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
- If you elected to try out dried beans, yay you! You won’t be sorry. Not only are they cheaper, they taste better, and you won’t have all that extra sodium. I follow the directions on the back of the bag, only I don’t dump out the soaking water – it is full of flavor and nutrition from the beans. Basically, rinse and sort your beans, put them in a large pot and cover with water (at least 2 inches above the beans). Bring them to a boil, then remove from heat and let them soak for an hour. Put them back on the heat and bring to a simmer. They’ll soak up a bunch of the water, and so you’ll have to add more. Simmer them for 1.5-2 hours, or until they are tender. Don’t overcook them, as they’ll get cooked a tad bit more in the soup. When you’re done, drain the beans, reserving the soaking liquid. (if you’re using canned beans, just skip this part)
- Cut sausage links in half lengthwise, then cut into half moons (however thick you’d like). Brown them for a few minute in a large soup pot over medium to medium high heat. Some people cook sausage in a tad bit of oil, but I think sausage is fatty enough – if you need a little something to keep it from browning too much, just add a bit of water. When it is browned, remove it and set aside.
- Add 2 or so teaspoons olive oil to the pot and add onion. Saute 3-4 minutes, or until it starts to soften. Add garlic, and stir constantly for 30 seconds (don’t let it burn!). Add mushrooms, and sauté another 5-6 minutes, or until they give up their liquid and are starting to brown a little.
- Add the sausage back in, along with 4 cups of the beans (or 2 cans of rinsed and drained canned beans), the sage and thyme, and about 6 cups of water. Stir in salt and pepper to taste – I use kosher salt, and as the grains are larger, I sometimes seem to need a bit more than if measuring out table salt. My rule of thumb is to start with half and taste it, cuz you can always add more. So, put in ½ tsp salt, and maybe ¼ tsp worth of ground pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on medium low heat.
- At this point, all the ingredients are cooked, so you can simmer about as long or as little as you want. Try to give it a good 10-20 minutes for the flavors to mix and mingle and get all yummy. Taste it again, and add another ¼ go ½ tsp of salt, if needed.
- When you get to about 5-10 minutes out from wanting to sit down to dinner, stir in the kale. Let it cook 5-10 minutes, depending on whether you like it green with a little bite to it, or dark and soft.
- Grate some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano over each serving. It isn’t required, but it is like icing on the cake. Parmigiano Reggiano sounds extra fancy, but I just get it in the “fancy” cheese section of safeway. It is obviously pricier than your basic cheddar, but it keeps forever loosely wrapped in the fridge, has incredible flavor, and a little bit goes a long way. I find that just a tad bit of it is what makes a good dish great.
Enjoy (we sure did!)