Monday, January 3, 2011

Sausage and Bean Soup

Today we are having one of my favorite soups.  This recipe started out as an Italian wedding soup and has gradually morphed into a beans and sausage soup.

If anyone knows how to get the packages to stop glaring in the pictures, I would love to know.

First, the sausage.  If you are using sausage with a casing on it, you need to remove the casing.  You can either slice in longways and peel it off, or squeeze the sausage meat out the end of the casing like toothpaste.  I couldn't get a picture of myself doing that.  You can also use loose sausage.  I like sweet Italian sausage for this recipe.

Put the sausage in a large sauce pan (mine is 3 quarts.)  This picture shows the entire package but you only need about a half pound or half a package.  Cook over high heat, breaking up the sausage while it cooks, until it is thoroughly crumbled and there is no more pink.  At this point, I took out the extra sausage for another recipe.

Add one diced small onion and a tablespoon of minced garlic.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes until the onion and garlic are soft and translucent.

While the sausage and onions are cooking, chop the zucchini into small dices.  I like to chop it lengthwise into sticks and then cut across - it seems pretty efficient.  The recipe calls for two small zucchini but I used one large (not monster) zucchini instead.

 I also chopped the kale.  For pieces that have a large stem, I fold the kale in half and slice off the stem part. 
Then the kale leaves get chopped into 1/2 inch pieces.  You'll need about two cups.  You can also use escarole, or broccoli rabe, or whatever kind of greens you like.

Once the onion and garlic are looking yummy, add the zucchini, kale, oregano, marjoram, a dash of red pepper flakes and chicken broth (two cups or one can).

This is what happens why you try to take a picture too close to a steamy pan.

If you are using canned beans, add one can of drained and rinsed white beans now.  I was using precooked beans that had been frozen, and I was afraid they were too mushy.

Simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Add prepared beans, if you haven't already put them in.  Serve.

The Verdict

I served this with fresh grated parmesan cheese and some yummy rolls.  I only had two kids at dinner.  Both of them declared that the meat was the only edible part, though one liked the broth as well.  The dreamy husband had three bowls and then forced himself to stop.  I had one full bowl, plus ate both kids' servings.

I have made this at least a dozen times, including at a huge house party when my brother got married out of state.  It has always been a huge hit.  Leftovers keep well in the freezer but rarely last that long.

Sausage and Bean Soup (serves 4 as a main dish)

one half pound sweet italian sausage
one small onion, chopped small
one tablespoon minced garlic
one large or two small zucchini, chopped small
two cups chopped kale or escarole or broccoli rabe or whatever greens you like
red pepper flakes
two cups or one can of chicken stock
1 2/3 cups soaked white beans, or one can, drained and rinsed
parmesan cheese for serving

Remove casing from sausage. Crumble and cook over medium heat in three quart sauce pan, until there is no pink.

Add onion and garlic and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, until onion and garlic are transparent and soft.

Add zucchini, greens, seasoning and chicken stock. Add beans if canned or not yet overcooked. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until thoroughly heated and veggies are tender.

Add beans if necessary and heat through.

Serve with parmesan cheese, sliced or grated.

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