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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage

Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage
Though our weather hovers in the unseasonably-warm range and we've been setting new record-highs all week long (even hitting 90° F one the first day or two of Northwestern Indiana. No. I can't get over it. It's weird.), it's still a good time for soup.  But I've mentioned that before.  In my book, soup isn't seasonal.  It's a staple.

While I do usually prefer brothy soups, the occasional thick...or thicker than brothy...ones add variety.  So I don't dismiss them.  Especially when they're beautifully beany.  This one in particular is thickened with both white beans and potatoes that are cooked until extremely tender and falling apart and then mashed to add body to the broth.  It becomes creamy and luscious which I think makes the perfect backdrop for the bold flavors of cabbage, rosemary, Italian sausage, Parmesan, and balsamic vinegar that actually work together in harmony rather than compete as it seems they should.

Serve it with a loaf of crusty bread for mopping up the tasty juices at the bottom of the bowl and glass of chilled white wine to wash it all down.  And as expected, it's even better the day after it's made so that the flavors have had time to get to know each other better.

Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage
Cabbage, white beans, Italian sausage, rosemary, and potatoes working together to form a creamy and luscious bowl of soup you'll want to enjoy year-round.
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Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Keywords: boil soup/stew beans sausage cabbage

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces Italian Sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled & chopped
  • 1/2 of a medium head cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 3 cups cooked white beans
  • 6 cups chicken stock
to serve:
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped rosemary
  • Parmesan cheese
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high. Crumble the sausage into the oil and cook until sausage is cooked through. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened a bit and beginning to color, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute or so. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Add the white wine and stir to release the fond from the bottom of the pot.
chopped rosemary
Add potatoes, cabbage, and half of the beans to the pot along with the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow, steady simmer. Cover partially and cook, stirring from time to time, until potatoes are falling apart, 20-30 minutes. Add a bit more stock (or water or bean cooking liquid) as necessary so that the mixture remains soupy.

building flavor in the soup
When soup is ready, mash the potatoes and beans a bit (a potato or bean masher works well). Add remaining beans to the pot and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

To serve, ladle the hot soup into bowls and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Grate some pepper over the top. Add a smattering of rosemary. Shave a few slices of Parmesan over it. Enjoy!

-adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage