Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sausage and Many Bean Soup

So...a new Whole Foods just opened here in our town. Word has it that there was a line around the block to get in on the first day. So I decided to wait a couple of weeks to check it out. I've never been to a Whole Foods, and I guess ours is on the small side.

On a Friday afternoon I decided to wander on over there with my boy. I enjoyed a bit of perusing...I found that red lentils are about $1.50 per lb cheaper than the other three stores with bulk bins. I scooped a bunch, then heard "but Mommy I want the colored ones!" Sure enough, right next to the red lentils was "sunshine soup" mix. Looked like a mix of red lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, yellow and green split peas, barley, and a few other things. I wasn't sure what to do with it, but I scooped some.

Google found another poor lost soul asking for advice, which was basically "cook on low all day". I figured it was a good candidate for the slow cooker.

Sausage and Many Bean Soup
1 lb mixed bean and barley soup mix: 2.99
4 links chicken and gouda sausage: 3.00
1 Tbsp canola oil: 0.03
1 large onion, diced: 0.50
2 cloves garlic, minced: 0.10
2 large carrots, diced: 0.30
4 stalks celery, diced: 0.50
1 medium tomato, diced: 0.75
1 tsp each basil, thyme, rosemary: 0.25
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp sage
salt and pepper to taste

Total: $8.42 for about 14 cups, $0.60 per cup

Rinse the bean soup mix, put in the crockpot. Cover with 6 cups of water and turn on high for two hours. Reduce heat to low. Cook for several more hours.

Saute onions, sausage, carrots, and celery in a pan in oil until starting to brown. Add garlic and spices, except for salt and pepper. Saute a couple more minutes.

I have a vegetarian slow cooker book that specifically mentions sauteing vegetables - not only does it impart rich, carmel-y flavors, but it also gets them softened. I have learned the hard way that carrots don't like to soften in a low crockpot. When browned, deglaze the pan with a little bit of water.

Add the sausage and vegetables to the pot. At this point, I added two more cups of water that I heated in the microwave with a little bit of beef bouillon, until I read the package and realized there was no beef in the bouillon, but there was MSG. So, most of the cube went into the trash, but some made it into the soup.

Continue to cook over low for a couple more hours. Add the tomato, cook a bit more.

There was a method to my "add a bit here and there" madness. It's possible that you could dump everything in the crock in the morning and it would be fine at the end of the day. I don't know. I've read, though, that salting dried beans (or adding acid, like tomatoes) makes them impossible to soften. Of course, I've read elsewhere that it's not true. Being as this was a weekend, I decided why risk it? So I cooked the beans first, and basically added the rest of the stuff when the beans were mostly cooked through and softened.

The tomato was added last because I forgot about it.


Anonymous said...

This looks so good! And with soup season upon us, a warm bowl of soup is just the ticket. I'll make this recipe (without meat), looks yum!

Do you soak your dried beans first? I soak mine 24 hrs before using. Then toss in crockpot and cook. I love how cheap and healthy dried beans are! We eat them daily.

Hope you're well!

Marcia said...

I usually soak my beans. But I didn't this time because it was a mixture of barley, split peas, and beans...and, should I soak split peas and barley?

So next time I might try soaking...see if it's better.

I think the soup would be just great without meat. We had some sausage in the freezer from when my parents were visiting (in, um, May, yep that's the last time I bought meat...)

Joanne said...

Isn't Whole Foods awesome?!?!? I love it there. It's actually cheaper than every grocery store in manhattan. If you can believe that...

This soup looks so delicious! Perfect for a fall day.