Mr. Green Thumb and I love eating soup, and this recipe is one we both really enjoy! Being able to pluck the kale from the garden, even in frigid, below-freezing weather, makes this dish very rewarding! With just a handful of ingredients, it is quick to throw this soup together; the majority of the time required is leaving it on the stove top to simmer. Sometimes simple really is the most satisfying.
In this soup, the Cannellini, or White Kidney beans, create a starchy, thick, creamy texture, in contrast to the other vegetables; while the Italian sausage adds just the right amount of spice. This is certainly a soup for adults and kids alike; we enjoyed watching each of our four sprouts, and a little friend, devour their bowls, green bits and all!
Hearty Winter Sausage and White Bean Soup
4 Quarts (litres) homemade chicken stock (unsalted, or lightly salted)
1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked and cooked
6 Italian sausage links (mild, if the kiddos have any kind of spice aversion)
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
5 stalks celery with tops, diced
1 medium yellow or white onion, minced
2 cups kale, roughly chopped (stems discarded)
3 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (approximately 40 turns), plus more to taste
Soak beans for several hours, or overnight. Rinse, and place in a sauce pan; cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for two- three hours, until very soft. Do not add salt at this point, as it will inhibit the beans from absorbing the water!
Dice the onion, carrots, and celery, and add to a dutch oven pot with some of the chicken fat, or a splash of olive oil. On medium low heat, gently sautee the vegetables until tender.
Add the chicken stock to vegetables, and continue to simmer on medium low so that the vegetables continue to cook.
Remove casings from the sausages, and slice the sausages into thin rounds. Add to the broth to cook. If you are having trouble removing the casings or cutting the sausage, place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, and they will be easier to work with.
Once the beans are cooked, add them to the stock along with the kale. Add salt and pepper, and continue to simmer for at least a half an hour. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Makes approximately 12 servings.