May 21 2011
I am not a quitter. I will finish a boring book, watch a losing game and continue to try to get Greg to vacuum for the simple reason that it might get better if I keep going and that would be an amazing triumph. And I like triumphs, especially amazing ones.
Since this is not a blog about how to get your husband to do chores (um, does anyone have a link to one of those?) you know this has to relate to a cooking tribulation. The most recent one (ha, because there are many) was the mushed beans that I original envisioned as bean soup.
But, since this girl doesn’t give up, I tweaked the recipe to get what I wanted.
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
Makes 8 dinner portions
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage, free from casings
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups (loosely packed) chopped kale
- 4 cups tomato water*
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 6 cups white beans (we used Great Northerns)
- 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp marsala wine (sherry is ok)
- 1/2 Tbsp minced sage
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4-1 tsp red pepper flakes, depending your tastes
*When I make tomato sauce or anything else that calls for straining tomatoes, I reserve the water and freeze it. There’s no reason to use tap water in soups and such when you can use something that adds flavor. If you, for some crazy reason, don’t have 4 cups of tomato water hanging out in your freezer, use the liquid from the can of tomatoes and top it with water or chicken broth to make 4 full cups.
In a large skillet over medium heat, break up and brown the sausage. Set aside. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil and saute the onion about 1 minute. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds; add the kale and saute until kale turns brighter green and becomes more tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add tomato water and broth and bring to a simmer. Puree 4 cups of beans (or use the mush that you froze a few weeks ago) and add this plus the remaining whole beans to the pot. Stir to thoroughly combine the bean puree with the broth. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Add sausage and stir to combine; be sure it’s heated throughout.
Sweet success. This soup is absolutely delightful and has such a pleasing blend of textures and flavors–a little heat from the peppers, earthiness from the kale and herbs, brightness from the acidity of the tomatoes, lemon juice and wine and that certain brand of meatiness from the pork that goes so well on the background of white beans. The first night I made this, Greg had a big bowl and went back for seconds–it’s that good.
Three things to watch for: 1) Saltiness–it absolutely has to be salted but you don’t want to cover up all those other beautiful flavors. This is one instances where I’d skip on the salt as the cook and let diners salt to taste at the table. 2) Spiciness–those red pepper flakes add a huge dimension to the soup but, as my grandmother likes to say, “A dab will do ya”, especially if you choose to use hot sausage instead of mild. And, 3) Thickness–watch those pureed beans, especially after reheating. You want it somewhat stew-like but f it starts to get too thick, add more chicken broth.
So, in the end, I got the flavor and texture I wanted AND use those damn mushed beans. I win. This is why you don’t quit, remember?–amazing triumph. Now, to talk to Greg about the vacuuming…