I left work early today due to the expected winter weather event we were told would arrive mid-afternoon. The snow didn't begin until early evening so I was home in plenty of time. But the extra hours allowed me to experiment with ingredients on hand. You can use either dried beans or canned beans. Omit the sausage and substitute vegetable stock and you'll have a great vegetarian meal.
Garlic and kale are two superfoods! Your body will thank you for your intake! We also know that balsamic vinegar has important health benefits as well. Just before serving, I added approximately 1 T. of Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar. It adds a bright note of freshness to the soup.
If you're using dried beans, you'll need to presoak for a few hours or overnight. Sort through the beans and discard any which are bad. Put the beans in a glass bowl and cover with cool water. Cover. After soaking, drain, rinse the beans and set aside while you prepare the soup.
If you are pressed for time, you can do a quick soak. Sort through the beans, place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a rapid boil. Let boil for two minutes, cover and remove from heat. Let beans soak an hour, drain, rinse and set aside while you prepare the soup.
1 lb. navy beans (prepared as described above)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 T. minced garlic
1 lb. Italian sausage
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 - 14.5 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
2 t. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 t. crushed fennel seeds
3 cups kale, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
salt to taste
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
In a medium Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add garlic infused olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Lightly salt the vegetables. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.
While the vegetables are softening, in a separate skillet, brown the Italian sausage over medium-high heat.
When browned, add the sausage to the vegetables along with the beans, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds.
Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let soup cook for 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until beans are soft and cooked through.
Add kale, salt, and pepper. Cover and let the soup cook for another 15 - 20 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.