Great Northern Bean Soup with Homemade Italian Chicken Sausage…..

Great northern beans are a lovely, mild white bean.  Soak them over night to make for quicker cooking the next day.  For an extra creamy textured soup, puree a couple of cups after the beans have fully cooked or use an immersion blender for a few seconds.  Use a small amount of chicken sausage (recipe below) as the flavor goes a long way.

Great Northern Bean Soup with Homemade Chicken Sausage

1 lb. dried great northern beans, soaked over night, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. homemade chicken Italian sausage (recipe below)
1 large sweet onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 cups celery, cut into 1/2″ pieces
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups carrots, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tablespoons dried or fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1)  The night before cooking, sort through the beans to pick out any debris.  Place in a large cooking pot and cover with 2″ of water.  Allow to soak over night.
2)  The next day, drain and rinse the beans. 
3)  Into the large pot, add the olive oil and warm over medium-high heat.  Add the Italian sausage to the hot pan and cook through.  Add the onion and celery.  Cook for about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic, cook another minute.
4)  Add the carrots, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Add the beans to the pot and fill the pot with water to cover the beans 1″.  Cook over medium heat for 1-1 1/2 hours.  Stir often to prevent sticking.  Add additional water if the water cooks below the beans.  Once the beans are done,  taste.  Add additional seasoning if necessary.  Remove a couple of cups of hot soup and place in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth and add back to soup.  Makes about 8 one cup servings.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, My Version

One word…delicious.  I actually made this recipe with dried red beans, however, cooking time was about five hours!  As previously mentioned, sometimes the beans have been on the shelf awhile and require extra cooking time.   I made a very time saving modification and used canned red beans, equally delicious.  When using canned beans, it is best to drain and rinse as there is a HUGE amount of sodium in the liquid.

Most red beans and rice recipes add the rice right to the beans.  I think it best to serve the beans over rice.  I find that when the rice is added to the beans the rice absorbs all of the flavorful liquid, leftovers dry out.   Make a double batch and freeze for later.  Remember to label and date.

Make this with our without the sausage.  There is quite a bit of ingredient used for seasoning.  One of which is not on my pantry list, but will be going forward.  It’s Liquid Smoke and I love it.  This adds amazing smokey flavor to any dish.  The beans are very hearty so you would not miss the sausage.

Here we go:

You will need a medium diced onion, and a small red, yellow, and green pepper, all diced.  We’ve got a nice healthy start, don’t we?  Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the veggies to the pot.

Add  a cup of diced parsley with the leaves.  The leaves add a lovely mild flavor…
You’ll need a serrano chili.  They’re small and quite hot, but we’re only adding one to the pot.  Unless you remove the seeds and membrane, it’ll blow your head off!  I use gloves when handling hot peppers.
Carefully slice the pepper in half.
Using a spoon or a small knife, carefully remove the seeds and membrane.
Finely dice the peppers and add to the pot.
Once the pepper and onions are soft, add three large cloves of minced garlic, cook about one minute.
Add 3 cups of stock.  If you have some homemade stock, go ahead and use it.  If not, you can also use my favorite back up, Better Than Bouillon.  Use 1 teaspoon per one cup of water. 
Add two cans of drained and rinsed red beans and a can of vegetarian refried beans.  The refried beans will thicken the liquid giving it nice body.
Now for the seasonings….you’ll need sweet or smoked paprika, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke, low sodium soy sauce, molasses, tomato paste, and a small amount of sherry at the very end.  These all go in the pot (except for the sherry) and allow to simmer, uncovered,  for 30 minutes.  Stir often to prevent sticking.  Add additional water if your beans are too thick.

Add the sliced sausage and the sherry, simmer another 10-15 additional minutes. 

I did not add any additional salt, as there is plenty of sodium in the soy sauce and bouillon.  If you use your own unseasoned chicken stock, you may have to add a small amount more salt.  Season to taste.
Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Smoked Sausage

2 cups (uncooked) brown or white rice, cooked according to package instructions (4 cups cooked)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 small green pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery and leaves, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small Serrano chili, seeded and minced
3 cups or more vegetable or chicken stock
2 15 ounce cans red beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can vegetarian refried beans
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon molasses
12-16 ounce package cooked smokey or spicy sausage, cut into ¼” diagonal pieces
1 tablespoons sherry

1) Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the red, yellow, and green peppers, onions, and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and the Serrano chili, cook another minute.
2) Add the chicken stock, the red beans, and refried beans to the pot. Stir until the refried beans have dissolved in the liquid.
3) Add the liquid smoke through the molasses. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, stir often.
4) Add the sausage and sherry, simmer another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves.  Makes about eight servings. Serve over ½ cup of rice.

*serve with hot sauce if you wish.
*for vegetarian, simply omit the sausage and use vegetable stock.