This is the soup I make every week. And when I say every week, I really do mean at least once every seven days. This meal has many merits, not the least of which is the fact that it’s the one dinner no one will ever complain about. It also makes enough to feed my family twice, which, as you can imagine, is a definite added bonus, and the ratio of vegetables to meat is heavily in favour of the ground-grown goods, leaving me feeling virtuous for feeding it to my family as often as I do.
As a recipe developer I spend a lot of time coming up with and cooking new recipes, and I love it. I get a small thrill each time I stand before the stove in hopes of creating a success, but there are many, many days when I prefer to turn to the dishes I’m most familiar with instead. When this happens, I have a set of go-to meals that I make repeatedly, and I like to think of them as our house specials.
You’re familiar with the term, I’m sure. In the food industry, it’s typically a dish that is the specialty of a particular chef or restaurant. It could be a soup, a salad, a drink, or even a main course. I have my own specialties, and this sausage, bean and vegetable soup just happens to be one of them.
Every home needs a few “house specials” - I’m sure you have yours – and my pantry and freezer are always stocked with the ingredients I need to make this meal. Without them, I feel the same way I do when I accidentally leave my phone at home or I forget to set the PVR for Girls – a little lost. They are essential to my kitchen, just as the recipe is, and I take no shame is defaulting to this dish as often as I do.
Before I go, let’s talk about kale for a minute. You might be over it, but I’m definitely not. It’s one of the few vegetables that both of my boys easily agree on, and lest you think I’m so very lucky to have kids that readily gobble up their greens – and I agree, it’s awesome – I couldn’t get either of my boys to eat a strawberry if I paid them to, and presenting mushrooms or asparagus on the plate holds about as much appeal as a night with nothing to do but homework. In essence, we all have our issues, but greens are not one of mine. I use spinach, kale and Swiss chard interchangeably, and find that removing the thick inner stalks, and cutting the leaves into thin ribbons, makes for easy eating. Please know though, it’s really the sausage that lures them to the table – in case you weren’t aware, boys love meat – I just add a bunch of good-for-you-ingredients to mix with it so the kids are eating what they like and what I like for them.
Do you have any “house” specialties? What is the one thing you make repeatedly that you know will always be well received?
Sausage, Bean and Vegetable Soup
It could be argued that this soup more resembles a stew thanks to the plentiful portions of veggies. Regardless, we refer to it as soup and like to eat it topped with grated Parmesan cheese and a side of crusty bread. I buy my sausages in bulk quantities and package them up in bundles of four, which I store in the freezer until needed.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 (about 450g) sausages , casings removed
- 1 large head kale, inner stalks removed and cut into thin ribbons
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
- 2 large russet potatoes, cut into large dice
- 2 cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2-3 cups water
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Place the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or stockpot set over medium heat. When the butter has melted add the red pepper flakes, stirring them around. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent and soft, 7-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Place the sausage in the pot, breaking it up into smaller pieces with the back of the wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the pieces begins to brown. Add the kale and stir, cooking until wilted.
Dump the carrots, potatoes, and beans into the pot, and season with the nutmeg. Pour the chicken stock and water over top (use the amount required to cover the vegetables by at least one inch). Bring the soup to a boil, partially cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Taste and season to perfection with salt and pepper; serve warm.