Today the high temperature in New York City today was, oh, 24 degrees and that's being generous (not that I expect all of you in Chicago to pity us AT ALL). If you ask me, it's perfect weather. Perfect weather if you plan not to leave your house. Which sometimes, is appealing. But since I do have a job and a social life and all of that good stuff (seriously! I do!) not leaving the house is usually isn't an option. When I walk to the bus to work in the morning, it's usually not without an extra-hot latte in hand and as soon as I get to work, breakfast is hot oatmeal with brown sugar or maple syrup. Even though I've yet to use my fireplace in the year-plus that I've lived in my apartment, I have a hard time staying warm when the temperatures hit freezing.
Enter, soup. I could eat soup every day and not get bored. There are endless combinations and so many unlikely flavors that taste great together. This year, I discovered how much I like white beans, particularly cannellini beans. They're full of protein and fiber and have a great consistency blended in dips or soups and are just as tasty in salad, spinach salads in particular.
I found this recipe at Kalyn's Kitchen and I will admit, when it was cooking I was skeptical. Kalyn mentioned that it would have a thick, stew-like consistency but mine was, quite simply, soup. Racheael Ray would probably call it "stoup" but I think that's ridiculous.
I can't figure out what I did that left my dish a soup when I set out for a stew, because I didn't change the amount of liquids from Kalyn's recipe, but it turned out great and I would make it again, one way or another. You can find the original recipe here but I made a few modifications.
Cannellini Bean & Sausage Stew
2 cabs cannellini beans (Kalyn has great instructions on her site for cooking dried beans if you prefer)
4 links Aidell's Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage (or any pre-cooked chicken or turkey sausage)
2-3 tsp. olive oil (use more or less, depending on your pan)
1/2 large onion, choppped
1 T minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can petite dice tomatoes with juice
1 tsp. dried Greek or Italian oregano
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
2 cups chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 T balsamic vinegar
Fresh grated parmesan for serving (optional, but good)
1. Put 2 cans cannellini beans into colander placed in the sink. Rinse well with cold water, until no more foam appears. Let beans drain and use in recipe. (This is slightly more beans than the 1 cup of dried beans; you can freeze a few for another recipe if you like.)
2. While beans are draining cut sausage into half lengthwise, then cut into half-moon shaped slices. Heat about 1 tsp. olive oil in heavy dutch oven or soup pot, then saute sausage until well browned, about 5 minutes. When sausage is well-browned, remove to bowl, then add chopped onion and saute about 2 minutes, adding more oil if needed. After 2 minutes, add chopped garlic and saute about 2 minutes more.
3. Add tomatoes and juice, dried oregano, dried marjoram, and chicken stock to pot with onions and garlic. Add sausage back to pot, then cook at very low simmer about 30 minutes, until flavors are well blended and liquid is slightly reduced. After 30 minutes. add drained beans and simmer about 15 minutes more.
When beans have simmered 15 minutes, add chopped basil and balsamic vinegar and simmer 5 minutes more. Taste beans for seasoning and add salt and fresh ground black pepper as desired. Serve hot, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Besides Duraflame fires and keeping your stovetop busy, what are you doing to stay warm this month?