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Black Bean Soup with Chicken Sausage and Honey Crisp Apple

Black Bean Soup with Chicken Sausage and Honey Crisp Apple
Serves 8

Note: When I’m preparing homemade soup, if I don’t have a stash of my own chicken or veggie stock I buy organic stock, not broth, from my local market. The stock is less salty than canned broth and while it’s more expensive, it’s worth eschewing the extra sodium while getting flavor closer to homegrown soup stock. Just sayin’.

Ingredients:
1 lb. dry black beans – $0.75
4 Tablespoons olive oil, separated – stock
1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, diced – $1.41
1 large Honey Crisp apple, peeled and diced (about ½ lb.) – $1.07
3 cloves garlic, minced – stock
1 Tablespoon brown sugar – stock
12 oz. package of chicken with apple sausages, cut on the diagonal in ½-inch slices – $5.99
1 Teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger – stock
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock – stock ($5.00 if you don’t have homemade)
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream and Granny Smith apple slices to garnish, if desired.
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $9.22
Total Per Serving: $1.15

Directions:
1. Soak the beans in 2 quarts of water overnight OR bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add the beans and cook over high flame for 2 minutes. Set aside for 1 hour. Rinse (in either case) under cold running water and pick through the beans, tossing out the occasional small stone.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high flame. Sauté the onion and apple, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to caramelize to a golden color.

3. Add the garlic and sprinkle the mixture with the brown sugar, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.

4. Using the same skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high flame. Sauté the prepared sausage slices, in batches if necessary, turning once until both sides are golden and a bit crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and blot dry. Cover and refrigerate.

5. Meanwhile, in a large, covered stockpot, combine the beans, chicken stock, cinnamon, ginger, and apple-onion mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce flame. Simmer, with the lid on for 3 hours until the beans are soft.

6. Using a food processor armed with the steel blade, puree the soup in batches. Return to the pot, add the sausages, correct the seasonings with salt and pepper and reheat.

7. Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and apple slices, if desired.