Tuesday, January 19, 2010

White bean and kale soup with sausage

Last week I decided to try two new things. One was to cook dried beans, and the 2nd was to try kale (a dark, leafy green vegetable like spinach).

I have attempted to cook dried beans once before and it was horrible. I tried a crock-pot method and they turned out really gritty. I never tried again. But dried beans are both a healthier and more frugal choice, so (a mere 10 years later) I tried again.

Whole Foods, where I do the vast majority of my shopping, featured a recipe in their monthly newsletter for white bean and kale soup with chicken sausage. I decided to use Italian sausage instead though. The newsletter also gave a basic recipe for cooking dried beans.

I am thrilled to say that my beans turned out great and the soup was a huge hit. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I liked kale. Much better than I expected.

I am no longer afraid to cook my own beans! And as they are so healthy and a great option for meatless meals, I think I'll be doing it more often!

First, how to cook the dried beans.

You'll need:
1 lb dried white beans (cannellini, navy or great northern - I used cannellini)
1 yellow onion, quartered
2 dried bay leaves
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Spread the beans in a single layer on a large sheet tray; pick through to remove and discard any small stones or debris and then rinse well.

Soak the beans using one of these two methods:
  • Traditional soaking method: in a large bowl, cover beans by 3" with cold water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Quick soaking method: in a large pot, cover beans by 3" with cold water, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, remove pot from heat and set aside, covered, for one hour.
Drain soaked beans and transfer to a large pot. Cover by 2" with cold water, add onion and bay leaves and bring to a boil; skim off and discard any foam on the surface. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, gently stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Drain beans, if desired, discard onions and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 7 cups total.

Now, the recipe for White Bean and Kale Soup with Sausage (originally from Whole Foods). This recipe is naturally free of both gluten and casein.

You'll need:
2 32-ounce boxes of chicken broth
1 lb of Italian sausage, sliced
Thinly sliced yellow onion (to taste, I used about 1/2 of one)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
7 cups cooked white beans
1 bunch organic kale, stems and tough ribs removed, leaves roughly chopped

Heat 1/4 cup chicken broth in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and sausage is just browned. (About 10 minutes.)

Add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened. (About another 10 minutes.)

Meanwhile, puree together 3 cups of beans and 2 cups of chicken broth, and set aside.

Once onions are softened, add remaining broth to sausage mixture in pot and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits.

Add kale, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until wilted and softened. (About 5 minutes.)

Uncover and add remaining 4 cups of beans, bean puree, more salt and pepper, and simmer until hot throughout.

I served this with a loaf of gluten free French bread.


  1. I LOVE kale! I'm so glad you posted this!

  2. Yum. I make a variation of this soup but with bacon. I love kale and just started cooking with it recently. And now I feel a little bit more emboldened to try dry beans :) so thanks.