Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuscan Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup

This soup is perfect for the frigid weather we are having right now. It is warm and filling without being too heavy. Make sure you use dried beans if you plan to make this in your slow cooker. Feel free to use canned beans if you are making this soup on your stovetop. Use a large Dutch oven and start by sautéing the sausage and proceed with remainder of the recipe, cooking until the soup is warmed through.

Tuscan Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup
recipe adapted from What's Cookin, Chicago? originally adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution

Table salt
1 ½ pounds dried cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for serving)
4 ounces pancetta, minced
1 large yellow onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cooked & sliced into rounds
3 bay leaves
1 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups kale, thinly sliced
grated parmesan for serving

Dissolve 3 tablespoons table salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.

Meanwhile, cook the Italian sausage. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Remove the sausage from the casings and sauté until browned.  Drain the excess fat and add the sausage to the slow cooker.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pancetta/bacon and cook until lightly browned and crisp. Stir in onions, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned. Stir in 1 cup of broth, scraping up any browned bits and transfer to slow cooker.

Stir in remaining 2 cups broth, water, soaked beans, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning. Stir to incorporate all ingredients, cover and cook until beans are tender, about 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and to serve, ladle soup into bowls, top with ¼ cup of kale, a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.