Saturday, June 11, 2011

Farm House Soup--White Bean, Kale, & Sausage

I loved growing up on the Minnesota plains. WWII was finally over, rationing ceased to exist, and while I'm sure my parents dealt with the headaches of the day, a kid no worries. It was a time when I could walk by myself at night, ride my bike out to the woods, or sit by the river and read. My sisters and I knew no fear. How I wish it were like that today--if only for my grandkids sake.

I love homemade soup. Any kind. For some reason I can't explain, they all remind me of my farm country childhood. Just a whiff of their steamy goodness and an image of our family dining room with its ponderous claw-foot table flashes across my mind. Sub-conscious memories, I suppose. 

My mom made soups in the winter; I make them any season. Sometimes I serve soup with biscuits or garlic toast or cornbread. Once in a blue moon, I indulge myself with popovers. Popovers are my favorite, but off the books now that my new doctor says I have to be vegan for my health's sake. If I wasn't past 70, I'd suck my thumb.

Because our crazy Southern California weather can't make up its mind as to which season we're supposed to be in, there came a dark, rainy June day when my soup cravings came out of hibernation. Someplace in the back of my mind came a whispered word. "Soup." The whispers played their song for half a day, like one of those tunes you hear someplace and then can't get out of your head.

I finally convinced myself that the only way to get rid of the continued nagging was to give in. So I dug out my big blue soup pot and got to work. I dug around in the refrigerator, scoured the pantry, and invaded the spice cupboard. I pulled this and that and the other things, just as I'd watched mom do for the first sixteen years of my life. How could I have known what a tantalizing creation was about to be born?

White Bean, Kale & Sausage Soup

 2 cans of great northern beans, rinsed
1 Tbsp. oil
2 small onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 celery stalks, diced

Cook the vegetables together until the onions and celery are semi-tender. Then add to the pot:

1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. basil
2 large bay leaves, or 3 small ones
1 large can of diced tomatos with its juice

Simmer all ingredients together so the spices work through everything in the soup pot.

Now add:

6 cups vegetable stock (more flavor than broth)
1 pound fresh kale, white stems removed, and the leaves chopped

Cover the pot and simmer for about 45 minutes. Just before serving, add 2 tofu Italian sausages, cut in bite size pieces. Cook another 5 minutes to bring the sausages to temperature.
I like the kale thoroughly wilted, so I cooked the soup on a back burner for about an hour. If you like your kale more toward the chewy side, add it to the pot about 10 minutes before you plan to eat.

For such few ingredients, I was shocked at the many layers of flavor this soup had. I suspect it was from the long simmering time but I'm not sure. What I do know is that no matter what you serve this with, it will be a winner all around. My two guests even went back for seconds. Is that a compliment or what? Mom would be proud.

Copyright 2011 by Sandra L Keith, All rights reserved
Beginning photo is courtesy of MS Clip Art
Soup photo is the property of the owner and may not be reproduced

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