Oftentimes in the Bay Area, the weather doesn’t match up well with the season. Such as it was on November 1, 2011, when I made this soup. It was balmy, high 70s, no wind but I still wanted a winter soup. I couldn’t help myself. So here it is as we head into a weekend that promises to be rainy and chilly. Enjoy!
You can use any pinto, borlotti-like, or cannellini beans you want, and you can also play fast and loose with the sausage, even going so far as to use sausage in casings or lamb merguez or something like that. I happen to have used Rancho Gordo Good Mother Stallard beans and spicy, loose Italian pork sausage from Bi-Rite market. It was good, simple, and comforting, even on a warm day.
1/2 pound dried beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 dried chile, stemmed, seeded, and cut into strips or broken into pieces
3/4 pound loose Italian sausage
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 medium potatoes, diced
Other diced vegetables you may have like carrots, green beans, fennel (optional)
2 to 3 cups broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the beans for several hours or overnight.
In a soup pot, over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, and chile and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and enough water to cover by one inch and raise heat to high. Lower heat to a slow simmer, partially cover, and cook until tender (45 minutes to 1 hour for freshly dried beans; longer the older they are)
When the beans are nearly done, brown the sausage, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Drain the fat.
When the beans are tender, but still firm, add the drained sausage, kale, potatoes, and any other vegetables you want to use to the bean pot. Add 2 to 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth to desired consistency. Bring to a simmer, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until vegetables are tender and flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Correct seasonings. This soup will be even better the next day.