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White Bean, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Mary Anne here. Our Cassoulet certainly covers the bean and pork superstition that goes hand in hand with celebrating New Year’s Eve, but we thought to offer an alternative, just in case. And, it’s yet again, another soup. Seriously, Mariel and I just can’t get enough of this winter staple!

I created this soup after Thanksgiving when I needed to find use for the leftover Kale that garnished our turkey. I had never worked with this leafy produce and learned a pot-full about transforming the curly leaves with their incredibly tough stems into a delicious, hearty winter soup. It is an appropriate first meal of the new year as it incorporates not only sausage and cabbage, but definitely adheres to the Southern adage, “ Eat poor on New Year’s and eat fat the rest of the year!” as this main-course soup costs only sixty-eight cents per serving.

Pair it with our Silky Cornbread and all of your material aspirations are covered: beans for pennies; cabbage for cash; and of course corn bread for gold.

If you are extra superstitious, and want to ensure a year of good luck swap out the white beans for black-eyed peas and by all means, use the traditional pork sausage for this joyful occasion.

White Bean, Kale, and Sausage Soup
Serves 12

1 lb. dried white beans: Great Northern or Navy – $1.00
2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
3 cloves garlic, minced – stock
1 large bunch kale, (about 1 lb.) washed, tough stems and thick center ribs removed – $1.49
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped – $1.17
1 lb. carrots, coarsely chopped – $0.91
1 lb. sausage (chicken, turkey, or pork), boiled for 10 minutes and then sliced into ¼ to ½ inch rounds – $3.59
1 ½ Teaspoons dried Thyme – stock
¾ Teaspoon dried Rosemary, crushed – stock
1 Bay leaf – stock
2 Teaspoon salt – stock
½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – stock
Parmesan cheese rind (optional, if you have one tucked in the freezer for making homemade stock) – stock
8 cups chicken stock – stock
4 cups water – stock
red pepper flakes to taste (optional) – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $8.16
Total Per Serving: $0.68

1. Using a large stockpot, cover the dried beans with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat and allow to stand, uncovered, for 1 hour. Transfer to a colander and drain and rinse under cold running water. Set the beans aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, place the sausage links into salted boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain the sausages and cut into ¼ inch to ½ inch rounds. Set aside. They will not be fully cooked. We’ll get to that in a few steps.

3. While the sausages boil and the beans do their quick soak, address the unwieldy kale. The vein or rib that runs down the middle of the leaf is tough and unpleasant to chew. Lay the curly Kale leaves face down on a cutting board. Trim the stems and run a sharp knife along each side of the “spine” or center rib. Note: Save the stems and ribs for future soup stock by freezing them in a sealed plastic bag.

4. After trimming and de-ribbing the kale, chop its leaves coarsely or crosswise into thin strips. The pieces should be an ample bite-size.

5. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onion for 10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, Thyme, and Rosemary and sauté an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to a large stockpot.

6. To the same large stockpot, add the chicken stock, soaked beans, Parmesan rind, carrots, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the flame and simmer, partly covered, for 1 hour.

7. As the soup simmers, sauté the sausage rounds in the same skillet used for the onions and garlic. Cook until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Add a drop or two of oil to the pan if necessary.

8. After the soup has simmered for the prescribed hour, add the prepared Kale and sausages plus 4 cups of water. Simmer, partly covered, for 20 minutes or until Kale is tender. Correct the seasonings and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired.