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cranberry bean, sausage and spinach soup


I love cranberry beans and this soup recipe with homemade pork sausage is one of my favorites made with these classic heirloom beans.  First I make a big pot of beans, always flavoring my beans with Mediterranean bay laurel leaves, then I freeze what we don't eat for later.  I get a lot of mileage out of a 16 ounce bag of beans. During the first weeks of our Corona Virus quarantine the bean shelves at our markets were either empty or largely picked over and there's a good reason for that, homemade beans are an easy to prepare, delicious and healthy food.  First you soak them overnight in cool water and in the morning place the beans with the  soaking water in a large pot and add flavorings, like onions, carrots and bay leaves.  Then bring to a boil and simmer until tender -for a few hours, depending on the beans and that's it, so simple, delicious and good for you.
I also add a spoonful of salt to my beans towards the end of cooking and often the beans need extra water as they cook.  I keep my cooking process simple so I make a pot of homemade beans as often as I like.

Ingredients for Cranberry Bean, Sausage and Spinach Soup

2 cups cooked cranberry beans, plus 1/2 cup of bean liquid
1 pound homemade pork sausage
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1&1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 fennel bulb, chopped in small pieces
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons sea salt or more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups fresh spinach 
freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1-2 lemons

Brown the sausage over medium high heat in a large heavy soup pot, remove sausage and set aside.  Drain off the fat, discard if you like or add to the pot later.
Heat the olive oil and add onions to the pot, cook for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic, stir and cook for 30 seconds, then add the carrots, fennel, potatoes, salt and pepper.
Cook and stir for several minutes then add the white wine, cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the sausage and the chicken stock, simmer for 30 minutes.
When the veggies are soft add the beans and their liquid, simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Right before serving add the fresh spinach and lemon juice to taste.

Makes enough for 6 servings







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