Soup, delicious soup! This recipe for White Bean Soup is probably the best I’ve ever made and one little ingredient made all the difference in the world to the flavor. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat the entire pot, but more on that later. Packed with white beans, Italian sausage, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, tomato, kale and baby spinach, this soup is nutritious as well as delicious.
This morning as I sat on the upper front porch drinking my coffee, somewhere off in the fog-shrouded trees, I heard the first whippoorwills singing their distinctive song. That is a sign of Spring that I am so happy to hear! And, it’s the first sign of Spring that has arrived early this year (normally they don’t begin their mating calls until early April in these parts). I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much over winter.
While we are still experiencing the frigid weather of Winter, though, I thought another soup would be just the thing. And I was right. This soup was delightful on a gloomy, grey day when we had freezing rain and temperatures hovering in the low 30’s.
I used some Italian Sausage that a good friend of ours made; it was a mild bulk sausage. So, if you purchase mild Italian sausage in links, just remove the casing and crumble to brown. The reason I added spinach is that even though I bought a huge bundle of kale, once I added it to the soup, it wasn’t enough green to satisfy me. So, if you don’t want to have two greens just double the amount of kale.
What made this soup the best version I’ve ever done is one simple ingredient I always keep on-hand for cooking: Vermouth. I used a dry version by Noilly Prat. Vermouth is a fortified wine aromatised with various roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs and spices; it adds tremendous depth of flavor to cooking. If you don’t have vermouth handy, you could substitute a dry white wine. But do consider adding some vermouth to your pantry.
Other than that ingredient, everything else is pretty straight-forward and things you’ll likely have in on-hand.
I’d love to tell you how fabulous this soup was as left-overs, or how it freezes (although I’m sure it is great for both), but tragedy struck. I was reeeeeheally tired the day I made this, so after cleaning up the kitchen, I left the stockpot on the stove to cool so I could store it. I went upstairs to get ready for bed, lie down to read for a bit and fell sound asleep. Not only did I not put the soup away, I had left the burner on. It’s a wonder I didn’t burn the house down during the night.
The next morning Mr. Saucy and I both smelled something odd and commenting on it. Well, damned if I didn’t find a pan full of char on the stove (appropriate that I should be publishing this on Ash Wednesday *smile*). I’ll definitely be making this soup again soon, since neither of us got our fill of it. I hope you’ll give it a try, just don’t leave it on the stove!
- 1 pound mild Italian Sausage, crumbled
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup peeled, sliced carrot
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup vermouth (or dry white wine)
- 2 -15 ounce cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (I used a combination of Northern and Cannellini)
- 1 -14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 6 cups torn kale leaves
- 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
- In a large stockpot, over medium heat, add the sausage, onion, celery and carrots, breaking up the sausage as it browns.
- Continue to cook until the sausage is browned and the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
- If you have a large amount of fat accumulated in the pot, drain it off.
- Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and continue to cook for about 1 minute.
- Pour in the vermouth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. This is called "deglazing."
- Continue to cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the beans, tomatoes (with their liquid), the chicken stock and water. Stir to combine.
- Add the torn kale leaves and the baby spinach leaves, stir to combine and cover the pot.
- Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Serve hot.