I don’t know about you, but December for me was all about trying to keep my head above water. Staying organized and efficient. Writing, addressing, stamping and mailing those Christmas Cards. Shipping all the out-of-towners gifts. And shopping… Ugh… shopping. Then wrapping gifts while cloistered in my locked bedroom so no-one got a sneak peak at their presents. After the frenzy of the holidays, all I want is to relax. I don’t want to cook (much) — I just want to lift the spoon to my mouth and be nourished with something soulful, simple and satisfying — like this Navy Bean, Sausage and Escarole Soup.
Start the night before by soaking the beans in a large, heavy pot. By the morning, they will have doubled in volume and they’ll be ready to cook. Depending on how old your beans are, it may take more or less time to cook… I’ve given an approximation in the recipe, but you’ll want to test one or two to make sure they’re tender, not tough.
While the beans simmer, sauté the sausage, garlic, herbs and vegetables until the meat is browned and the veg is tender.
When the beans are tender add the cooked sausage and simmer a little longer. By now, your stomach should be rumbling from the fabulous aromas coming from the kitchen.
Sturdy escarole lettuce — added at the end and simmered just until it wilts — rounds out this flavorful, hearty melange.
All I’d need is a chilled glass of white and a chunk of crusty bread to complete this heart-warming, soul-soothing meal. This soup is the antidote to last month’s holiday stresses – and whatever else ails you. Promise.
- 1 pound bag dry navy beans
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound bulk sausage
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 6 sprigs of thyme, tied in a bundle with kitchen string
- 1 head escarole lettuce, roughly chopped
- Pour the beans into a large dutch oven and sort through them to remove any pebbles or debris. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the beans by about two inches. Put the lid on the pot and set aside for 8 hours or overnight. Drain the water from the beans and refill the pot with fresh water - again, so that it is about 2 inches above the reconstituted beans. Add two bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45-50 minutes on a low simmer. Turn off the heat and let the beans sit in the pot, covered.
- Meanwhile, over medium high heat add the olive oil to a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and break apart with the back of a spoon or fork to brown the meat. Add the carrots and onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary and cook another 2-3 minutes until very fragrant.
- Transfer the sausage mixture to the beans. Add the bundle of thyme and stir to combine. Heat the pot to boiling and reduce to a simmer, cooking for another 30-40 minutes. Until the beans are quite tender.
- Just before serving, stir in the escarole and cook until it wilts, 3-5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.