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Sunday, March 20, 2011

White Bean and Sausage Soup

Another Lenten Soup Special and a "confession" — this soup is not exactly Bicycle Chef sanctioned.  Oh, it's good — too good; the soup is intensely meaty, rich and flavorful, but it's not on my low-fat, low-sodium healthy meal plan.  I think I went too over-board on vegetarian menu with last week's puree of carrot, sweet potato and ginger soup for the Lenten Soup Special at my church.  I was cooking for myself and neglected to consider the people who were eating the soup.  They wanted all the butter, cream and salt that the soup could hold.  Oh well, live, study and learn.  Pastor Hawkinson suggested a sausage soup for this week's Lenten study session.  Can't say that I ever had such a soup before but few ideas came into my mind. After a quick recipe search on the Internet, I decided to concoct this recipe.  While the group eating the soup would be virtuously studying the Lenten Cannon of the Bible and not necessarily eating virtuously, I went the full-fat route.  The recipe reflects the use of those ingredients.  To lower the fat and sodium I suggest substituting the pork sausages I used with turkey sausage; swap out the chicken broth (which was low-sodium) with either vegetable stock or water.  There are plenty of vegetables in this soup, you will only need to increase the seasonings — using more Italian Seasonings - oregano, basil, thyme, parsley and red pepper flakes to round out the flavors.  Salt may not be necessary, as the canned goods will have plenty — regardless of being labeled low or no-sodium.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as you go along.

White Bean and Sausage Soup Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Pound Sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 Pound Hot Italian Sausage
  • 3 Large Carrots - (about 1 & 1/2 Cups) peeled, washed and cut into medium dice
  • 2 Celery Stalks - (about 1 cup) cleaned and cut into medium dice
  • 1 Large Onion - (about 2 cups) peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 4 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper - (about  1& 1/2 Cups) seeded and cut into medium dice
  • 6 Cups Lower-Sodium Chicken Stock or Broth or Vegetable Stock
  • 1-14/16 Ounce Can - Cannelloni (White) Beans w/juice
  • 3 Tablespoons Dried Italian Seasonings (or a combination of Basil, Oregano, Parsley and Thyme)
  • 1-14/16 ounce Can Diced Tomatoes (no salt/no seasoning added)
  • 2 Cups Frozen Chopped Spinach - Thawed
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the sausages into small bite-sized pieces and saute them over medium-high heat in a large stock pot, browning them well and rendering the fat.  Remove the browned sausages from the stock pot and drain off most of the fat, reserving some to saute the vegetables.  Set the cooked sausage aside.
  2. In the same pot, saute the carrots, celery and onions until they vegetables begin to caramelize — about 6 to 6 minutes.  
  3. Add in the garlic and red bell peppers and saute for another 3 to 5 minutes.  
  4. Add in the stock, the can of white beans with their juices, the cooked sausages and the dried seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes before adding in the can of diced tomatoes (with juices) and the chopped spinach.  Simmer the soup for another 10 to 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding freshly ground black pepper and salt, but only if absolutely necessary.  
  5. Serve hot.  Soup will freeze well for up to three months.  Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  Makes 8 servings.

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