Monday, December 19, 2011

White Bean Sausage Soup (or just Sausage Soup so my 5-year-old will eat it)

I took this recipe from my mom, who adapted it from a recipe from the magazine Bon Appetite. Click here for the original recipe. The original version contained escarole, which my 1996 sister would probably not eat. I'm not convinced I would have been thrilled to eat it either. I've never been a fan of mushy soup greens. Our version has potatoes instead of escarole, which makes it thick and more stew like. It's essentially meat and potatoes in a soup bowl.

To make, you need:
  • Sweet Italian Sausage, maybe a pound or so of the usual package size at the grocery store is what I get. You can get pork or turkey or whatever you are in the mood for. I tend to get turkey.
  • A 32 oz container of Chicken broth or stock, beef is fine, if that is what you have. You can also use the equivalent of bouillon cubes. 
  • 1 medium to large white or sweet onion chopped. Don't use red onions, it will look weird.
  • 3-4 large potatoes peeled and chopped into 1/2-1/4 inch pieces. I like a thin skinned potato for soup. Yukon gold works well. I don't typically use russet since I find their texture in soups to be mealy. 
  • 1 15 oz can of cannellini beans 
  • 1 large bay leaf or 2 medium or small bay leaves. (Note from husband: Amanda actually uses like 4 bay leaves)
  • 1 bottle of good white wine. Some for the soup, more for the cook. I like an oaky Chardonnay but use whatever you like. 
  1. Cook the sausage whole in just enough water to cover on medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the whole batch of soup. (Did I mention this was a one pot meal?) Pay close attention since the sausage will burn pretty quickly after the water boils away. It will take about 20 min or so for the water to just about cook off and the sausage to cook through.
  2. Once the water has entirely boiled away and the sausage has released some fat and cooked through, remove the sausage to a bowl or cutting board to cool temporarily. Don’t brown the sausage.
  3. Add onions with some salt (1/2 tsp or so) and the bay leaves to the pot and sauté.
    1. Before adding onions you should assess the fat that has rendered from the sausage. If you used pork sausage and it released enough to cover the bottom of the whole pot, I would suggest removing some. If you used turkey sausage and the pot seems dry go ahead and add some olive oil or butter back into the pan so you can sauté.
  4.  Once onions are translucent, add the potatoes and wine. How much wine? That depends. If your wine rack is full, go ahead and add a ½ cup. If this is the last bottle in the house and no one is willing to make a wine run, just a splash or so will be fine. Save the rest for drinking with the soup.
  5. Cook for a few minutes to allow wine to soak in and then add the 32 oz broth with an additional 2 cups of water.
  6. Slice sausage into coins and  add it back into the pot along with any juices.
  7. Simmer until potatoes are soft, approximately 20-30 min. Smash the potatoes with the back of a spoon or a hand-held potato masher if you have one.  You don’t want a smooth puree. This just releases more of the starch into the soup and helps to thicken it.
  8. Drain and rinse the beans and add them into the soup.
  9. Continue cooking for another 20-30 min at low heat until reduced and thickened. At this point it is up to you how thick or thin you want your soup. Keep in mind that the soup will thicken as it cools.
  10. Once you are at the thickness you like, taste and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve with bread and cheese (Baked Brie if you have it) and a glass of wine*.
  12. Tell your friends and family that it is good luck to find the bay leaf in their bowl.

*As I said before, I like a buttery oaky chardonnay with this. Something like Toasted Head Chardonnay or Cupcake Chardonnay are both reasonably priced wines ($12 and $8 respectively) that I cook and drink with this soup. Pretty much whatever you like drinking will go well with this, including Beaujolais Noveau, Sancerre, Pinot Noir or Prosecco.  Just don't use a red wine in the soup or it will end up pink.

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