april 3, 2020
Our wonderful public radio station asked me recently on Instagram “What is your favorite snow day meal?” Even though it was spring and not a snowflake in sight (or hindsight, darn it) I did not hesitate when I answered Beans and Greens. Truthfully, if the thermometer read triple digits, my answer would be the same. We all need a little extra comfort in these trying times, and it’s time to recast that original recipe with some nice sausage for an extra filling and homey dish that can both feed a crowd or dwell faithfully in your freezer for when you need a culinary hug.
That initial run on staples at the grocery stores cleared the shelves of beans both canned and dried. This recipe was written before the crowds descended. After the initial rush, beans are back and a favorite brand of dried beans (Rancho Gordo) can be found at my neighborhood market Little House Green Grocery. Local sausage may be hard to find in your area—commercial or house brand links will do nicely.
Here’s what I love about cooking. Especially now that more people are exploring the calming and nourishing effects of home cooking, we are learning to cook on the fly, making substitutions for ingredients that may not be plentiful. This is turning us into creative cooks, using our noodle (forgive the metaphor) to bring meals to life with pantry staples and what looks good during our infrequent grocery store runs. If no swiss chard is available, use cabbage or kale. If you want a vegan version of this meal, go for White Bean and Cabbage Soup. Possibilities abound.
The important thing is to feed and nourish yourself and those you love, with homemade kitchen goodness that fills the belly and brings much needed cheer. Stay well.
Beans, Sausage and Chard
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes about 2.5 quarts
one pound dried beans ( I like Rancho Gordo brand)
one pound thick link sausage – spicy or mild
extra virgin olive oil
one large sweet onion, sliced thinly
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
7 or more cups best quality chicken stock
large bunch swiss chard or other greens, cleaned and sliced into ribbons
sea salt and finely ground white pepper
optional garnishes : chopped fresh dill, pomegranate arils*
*pomegranate arils may be purchased in small cups; if out of season,you may substitute dried cranberries, currants or raisins
- Place beans in large saucepan with water to cover and bring to boil; stir and let sit covered off heat one hour; drain and rinse well (you can also do an overnight soak with drain and rinse the next day).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Coat sausage links with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (you may need more if lean local sausage since commercial brands may have more fat) in heavy dutch oven and bake about 30 minutes, turning once at the halfway point; remove links and set aside to cool slightly; cut into coins when cooled.
- In same dutch oven, stir onion, garlic and carrot to coat with sausage juices over medium heat; when mixture begins to sizzle, turn to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until all begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
- Add beans, sausage coins and stock, bring to boil and simmer until beans are beginning to soften (times variable depending on bean – test one or two).
- Add chard ribbons and simmer another 30-45 minutes until beans are soft to your liking; I prefer creamy beans that still hold their shape, but I can handle some bean breakdown.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Use as soup or hearty entree; tastes best the next day – garnish as desired.
- For safe freezer or fridge storage, let cool completely before packing and be sure to allow a little room at the top of the storage containers for expansion of liquids during freezing.
- The easiest way to cool soups and stews quickly is to pour all into one or more large rectangular baking dishes and then transfer to large bowl when cooled for ladling into containers.
- Bean soups and stews thicken considerably on cooling, so you can add water or more stock with saucepan reheating, adjusting seasoning as needed.