July 2, 2010

Sausage Bean Soup

This is palate-friendly soup...

Such a tasty, semi-spicy (but not hot-spicy) soup--a spin-off of a Mexican black bean soup.

Place a bowl of this steaming soup before you, and your nose will be greeted with the aroma of tender mixed vegetables, zesty cumin, savory oregano, and just a hint of some spicy, somehow-sweet whole cloves. This soup has an agreeably pungent yet smooth taste. It's wholesome and filling, with a variety of textures (crisp corn kernels, soft beans, luscious tomatoes) and colors. This soup is just plain tasty, and you should try it.

Soup == Inexpensive: I like that homemade soups are (generally) an inexpensive food. I can make a significant amount, serving some immediately and freezing the rest for a rainy day.

Chicken stock: For this soup, I use homemade chicken stock, which is low in sodium. If you use the canned/boxed variety, or if you mix up some water with bouillon, you may not need the added salt the recipe includes.

Sausage: I use about 1/2 of a Bob Evans Original Recipe Pork Sausage roll. When I first made this soup, I cooked all the sausage, crumbling it, to use some in an omelette. I saved the rest and made this soup the next day. I assume that a different type of meat could be used (or no meat at all), but the sausage flavor is definitely distinctive--it's a key component.

Drain the tomatoes: You'll notice in the recipe that I say to drain the can of diced tomatoes. This action is important--the excess liquid is unnecessary for the soup. Don't overdo it: all you need to do is empty the can into a mesh strainer over the sink. Tilt the strainer and shake it just slightly. Don't smash the tomatoes. Allow the obvious juice to drain out. Then transfer the tomatoes (and any juice that's left with them) into the pot. This process should only take a minute.

Sides: Biscuits or rolls.

Toppings: Plain yogurt or grated/shredded cheese.

Sausage Bean Soup
Estimated Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4 - 6

  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 large bell pepper
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup cooked and crumbled sausage
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 4 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) kidney beans
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • Plain yogurt (optional garnish)

1. Rinse and dry the onion, bell pepper, and carrots. Peel the carrots if desired. Dice the onion, and halve then dice one half of the bell pepper. Thinly slice the carrots. Set aside.
2. Rinse and dry the fresh cilantro. Chop it small, then set it aside.
3. In 5-quart stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, carrots, whole cloves, and kosher salt. Saute for 2 minutes, stirring often.
4. Add the cooked and crumbled sausage, and heat for 6 minutes until vegetables are becoming tender.
5. Stir in the frozen corn, and heat it for 2 minutes. Stir often.
6. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. Add  the minced garlic. Break the bay leaves in half, and add them to the pot. Stir in the ground cumin, dried oregano, celery seed, and several twists of freshly-ground black pepper. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
7. Add the freshly-chopped cilantro.
8. Stir in the rest of the chicken stock (4 cups total). Drain and gently rinse the kidney beans and black beans, and add them to the pot. Pour the can of diced tomatoes into a strainer/colander and discard the juice that readily drains from them. Transfer the diced tomatoes to the pot. Stir.
9. Turn heat to medium-high. Heat until the soup begins to simmer.
10. Cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes.
11. Remove the bay leaves and whole cloves (if you can find them) before serving the soup. Do not eat them.
12. Serve with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt, if desired.