Tomato Bean Soup with Chicken Sausage

Making soup is one of my favorite ways to clear the pantry.  This wonderful fall soup is a great example of what you can put together from little bits of this and that from your pantry and freezer.  I had a cup of dry beans, some frozen chicken sausage along with the fresh roasted tomato sauce that I made earlier (in case you missed that post, catch it here).  Of course you can use a can of fire roasted tomatoes and canned beans, but don’t shy away from cooking beans from scratch, it’s easy and they are a healthy and nutritious addition to winter meals.  Just follow my step by step instructions!

4-6 servings

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I had a cup of dry beans in the pantry left over from another recipe, a mix of Borlotti and Great Northern.  You can use whatever beans you prefer (see notes).  Soak the beans overnight in cold water.

In the morning, the beans will have almost doubled in size.  Drain and rinse them, and return to the pot.  Cover with cold water and add 2 bay leaves.  Simmer 2 hours on low heat.

Notice that I started with cold water.  One of the secrets to tender beans is to cook them slowly and gently.  The heat is on very low the entire time, so the water comes to temperature slowly.  When it does reach a boil, I keep it on a very low simmer.  Also note that I did not add salt.  Salt toughens the beans, so we only add it during the final hour of cooking.

After a 2 hour simmer, drain the beans and discard the bay leaves.  Wipe the pot clean to remove all moisture and add one tbsp. olive oil.

To kick up the flavor in this soup, I added 2 chicken sausage links from my freezer pantry, one hot and one mild.  You can use pork sausage, ham or whatever protein you prefer, just be sure it’s gluten free.  Dice the sausage into 1/2″ pieces and cook until any liquid has evaporated and the meat is nicely browned.  Pardon the shaky photo but you get the idea!

Remove the sausage, cover and set it aside until the soup has finished.  Leave any fat and browned bits in the pot and add another tbsp. olive oil.  Add all of the veggies and season with salt and pepper.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Now add back the beans, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, sage and thyme.  Cover and simmer (keep the heat very low) for 1 more hour.

To finish the soup, stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional but I like the spicy kick) and return the sausage to the pot to heat through.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with fresh chives and serve with grated cheese.

We really enjoyed this soup, even though it was quite warm this first weekend of autumn!  I’ll be sharing more of my favorite soup recipes in the coming weeks, and I hope you will come by again to see what’s cooking in my Cucina!

Notes ♪♫  Beans are a naturally gluten free food.  However, be wary of the mixed bean packages as some contain barley.  I always rinse my beans thoroughly to limit risk of any cross contact during processing.

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