Sausage and bean soup

There hits a point sometime in mid-winter (read: right about now) when the only foods I want to eat can be boiled down to a category best described as carbs, soups, pasta, and more carbs. This is especially true this year – when we are somehow approaching the beginning of March when it seems we never properly finished the last one. 

All that to say, when I got up this morning and saw the snow piling up on my patio (again!), I just couldn’t bring myself to keep writing about knife parts and handle materials – I wanted something a little more tangible. 

This soup is my answer – thick and hearty, with chunks of deeply browned sausage and creamy pinto beans in a chile-rich, tomato-y gravy that reminds me of all the best parts of soup and chili rolled into one. It takes 40 minutes to throw together, though you could leave it simmering on the back burner for a few hours if you wanted to. It reheats beautifully, and, like most soups, it just gets better the longer you leave it in the fridge.

Which is great news for me, because it doesn’t look like it’s warming up any time soon.

Chile-spiced sausage and bean soup


Yield: 6-8   Time: about 45 minutes  Source: Eighth Street Mess 

This soup formula is very flexible. Don’t have sausage? Substitute browned and drained ground meat, or chunks of browned turkey or chicken. No pinto beans? Try any other bean or small pasta shape. Don’t have diced canned tomatoes? Try smashing up whole canned tomatoes, or use crushed. 

And don’t worry about the specific chile powders. If you don’t have what’s listed in the recipe, substitute a full teaspoon of the chile powder you’ve got. 

  • 1 lb ground pork sausage, such as sweet Italian or bulk breakfast
  • 1 15 ounce can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 ½ cups of dried beans, cooked and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for browning the sausage
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 small or 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 32 oz (1 quart) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • Soy sauce, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar to taste

Divide the sausage in half and form it into two large patties, about the size of the bottom of your dutch oven. 

Heat a slick of oil in your dutch oven over high heat until it shimmers, then lay in one of your sausage patties. Let it sit, completely undisturbed, until you start to see the meat turning deeply brown around the edges. Once this happens, break up the patty and continue to cook until the meat is deeply browned and cooked through, adding water as necessary to keep the fond on the bottom of the pan from burning. Scoop out the sausage and repeat with the second patty. 

Set the sausage aside on paper towel to drain. 

Add the olive oil to your now-empty pot and heat it over medium-high until it shimmers, then add onion, celery, carrot, leek, and a pinch or two of salt – just enough to help draw out some liquid from the veggies. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn translucent and the whole mass of vegetables has shrunk by about one-third. Dump in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

Scootch all the vegetables around to the outer edge of the pot so that you have a clear space in the center. Add the tomato paste to the clear space and saute a few seconds, just to break it up a bit, before mixing it through the rest of the vegetables. Saute until no large lumps remain and the tomato paste has slightly darkened. Add the spices and stir them through the mass of vegetables continuously until the whole mixture smells amazing, about 30 seconds.

Add about ¼ cup of water, stirring it through the mixture, and scraping vigorously to get all that delicious fond off the bottom of the pot. Cook until almost no liquid remains. 

Add the chicken stock, canned tomatoes with their juice, and the cooked sausage. Bring the whole mixture to a boil, then drop the heat to low and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the drained beans and simmer for another 15 minutes. 

Stir in a dash or two of soy sauce, then season to taste with salt, black pepper, and red wine vinegar. 

If you can resist digging in right away, I recommend letting this cool and parking it in the refrigerator overnight so the flavors can get to know each other. Future you will thank you. 

2 comments

Hi! I’m Jessi

A culinary degree and two years of professional experience has not stopped Jessi from making stupid mistakes – she just makes them more efficiently. She habitually reads cookbooks before bed, loses track of time on Wikipedia, and yells at cooking shows like dads watching football. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jackson, five plants, and more cookbooks than a 600 square foot studio should hold.

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