This soup is delicious and hearty on a cold winter day. With maybe a green salad, a bowl makes a good meal. I leave it very thick, what Rachel Ray calls “choup” — it’s nearly a stew. If you want more broth to soak up chunks of homemade bread, just add a little more stock.
When I make this for the New Orleans branch of the family, I use the andouille sausage, which is quite spicy. For friends closer to home, an Italian sausage works better. Just taste and add the pepper cautiously. Some like it hot, some don’t.
6+ servings. Makes nearly 3 quarts
• Medium onion, diced
• 2 cups diced celery
• 1 cup diced carrot
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• sea salt
• several sprigs fresh thyme (see note)
• 6 fresh sage leaves (see note)
• 1 cup white wine
• 4 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon chicken paste (see note)
• 4 cups water
• 3 cans organic cannellini beans, liquid and all
• 1 pound hot pork Italian or Andouille Sausage
• dash or two espelette pepper, if available
• several grinds of pepper
• Parmesan or Asiago cheese to garnish
1. Earlier or the day before, cook the sausages until almost done through. I bake them in the toaster oven. You could elect to cook slowly stovetop.
2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, pour a little extra-virgin olive oil, add the vegetables and lightly salt them. Sauté diced vegetables until softened but not browned at all. Toss in the herbs and add the white wine. Bring to a simmer.
3. Add the Better Than Bouillon chicken paste and the water and stir until the Better Than Bouillon is dissolved. Add the beans.
4. Cut the sausages in half lengthwise and then into ¼-inch slices. Add the sausage to the soup. Add the ground peppers cautiously to your taste. Heat to a low simmer and cook until the beans are very tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning, probably adding salt.
Garnish with shredded cheese.
Note on herbs: If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can use cut, dried, about a half teaspoon each. Don’t use ground powder herbs. Make a note to bring in some potted herbs next fall.
Note on the Better Than Bouillon for stock: Some time ago, on an America’s Test Kitchen episode, the staff did a taste testing of store-bought chicken stock. The organic brand I had in my cupboard was pronounced “possum road kill”. Another brand was voted best taste, but Better Than Bouillon was the runner-up for taste and then pronounced the best buy, because a small jar keeps in the fridge for up to two years. I wouldn’t be without it — soups, gravies, etc.
Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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