Herbed White Bean & Sausage Stew

Melissa Clark published a wonderful recipe for white bean stew in last week’s NY Times, marveling that she was able to make it without having to pre-soak her beans. Inspired by her recipe, Mr TBTAM and I decided to shorten the making of this stew even further by using canned beans. The result – a fabulously rich and flavorful autumn dinner in just over an hour.

Herbed White Bean and Sausage Stew

This recipe is a great use for those herbs that remain green in the garden through fall and early winter – rosemary and thyme. In addition to using canned beans, we replaced water with chicken broth, added some diced tomatoes, spiced things up with additional onion and garlic and a few red pepper flakes, and served it with freshly made jumbo croutons. You can lighten this recipe up by using chicken or turkey meatballs instead of sausage.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced 3/4-inch thick
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 large or two medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 thyme sprigs
1 large rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
2 14 oz cans chicken broth plus 1 can water
2 – 15.5 oz can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste
Jumbo Croutons for garnish (recipe below)

1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through. Remove sausage from pan and hold.

2. Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes, adding in the rest of the spices about halfway through. Stir in the beans, chicken broth and tomatoes. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently about 1 hour, till the broth thickens. Add the sausage back in during the last 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil. Pass around the croutons.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Jumbo Croutons

Half a Baguette (we had half of one in the freezer)
2-3 tbsp Olive oil
Salt and papper to taste

Thaw the bread if need be, then using a bread knife, cut into 2 inch cubes.Toss with the olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. spread onto baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit fo about 5-10 minutes, turning a few times during cooking and watching closely so they don’t burn. Serve.

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