Smoked Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

 

 

The ongoing clean-out-the-freezer project offered up a 4-pound package of our favorite Conecuh smoked sausage to be used last week.  DH is feeding it to the kids for breakfast some, but I'll need to include it in a couple of family dinners to use it up before it turns.  We love smoked sausage in jambalaya, gumbo and red beans and rice. These days, I am trying to cook as low-carb as possible so went looking for a dish that didn't need rice.  This 5-star recipe of Emeril's for Smoked Sausage and White Bean Soup fit the bill perfectly.  I turned the soup into a true one-pot meal with the addition of a big bunch of kale.  

I usually soak dried beans overnight, then rinse and put them on early in the day so that they'll have time to cook to the right consistency. Last week, I happened across an article on soaking beans in Cook's Illustrated (which unfortunately I cannot link here because they limit access).  The writer recommended not just soaking, but rather brining the beans by adding salt to the water for creamy beans with tender skins.  I used the technique here.

Smoked Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
  • 1 pound smoked pork sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups roughly chopped fresh kale

Directions:

  1. Rinse the beans in a colander and pick through them, tossing out any broken or discolored beans.
  2. Fill a large stockpot with cold. water.  Add 2 teaspoons of the salt and stir until it dissolves.  Add the beans.  Leave to soak 10-12 hours or overnight.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans.
  4. Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook for 7-10 minutes or until brown and a bit crispy.  Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside.
  5. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  6. Add the sausage back to the pot.   Add the chicken stock and water, then stir in the pepper, cayenne, beans, bay leaves and thyme.
  7. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and partially cover the pot.  Cook for around 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Cooking times will vary.  The beans should be soft, creamy and beginning to fall apart.
  8. Skim the fat from the top of the soup.
  9. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.
  10. Use a potato masher to mash about 1/4 of the beans to thicken the soup.
  11. Stir in the kale and simmer the soup uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  12. Taste and adjust seasoning before ladeling the soup into bowls.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 3 1/2 hours

Total time: 14 hours (including 10 hours inactive)

Whether attributable to the brining I can't say, but the the beans did have a perfectly creamy consistency and soft skins.  Smoked Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup is great, hearty, comfort food for cold fall and winter nights.  We all enjoyed the soup for dinner, then DH ate the leftovers for lunch, reporting that it was even better the second time around.

 

 

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