Sausage Bean Soup

Sausage Bean Soup

Ingredients:
1/4 lb Sausage (I use a fine grind kielbasa with extra garlic)
1 can black beans (12oz)
1 can diced tomatoes (18oz)
1/2 c celery (diced)
1/2 c carrots (diced)
3/4 c onions (diced)
2 potatoes (diced)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 c wine
1 tbsp hot chile relish
1 tsp sea salt
spices (black pepper, rosemary, thyme, and basil)

Preparation:

1. Dice vegetables and gather other ingredients.  Sausage should be chopped up as well; I tend to slice the sausage into 2-3" links, quarter the links, and then slice the quarters into 1/4" thick triangles.

2. Place the soup pot on medium heat, add the olive oil and let it heat up a bit.

3. Add the carrots, onions, and celery (this is the classic mirepoix base for cooking).  Add the salt as well to help the vegetables "sweat" a bit.  Stir and allow the vegetables to saute a for 3-4 minutes.

4. Add 1/2 c wine and cover. (The other 1/2 c of wine should be poured into the chef.)  Allow the vegetables to cook in the wines for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occassionally.

5. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and 1-2 cups of water.  Stir, cover, and allow to come to a simmering boil.  The main goal here is to cook the potatoes to an agreeable degree of softness.  The tomatoes and beans cook out a bit to help build the broth.

6. When the potatoes are the right consistency drop the heat to low (or med-low) and add the spices, relish, and sausage.  Allow the soup to then simmer for at least 45 minutes.

7. Serve.  The general results are a very chunky soup with an opaque and tasty broth.

Notes and alternatives:

A. Alternative "thickeners" to using the potatoes would be barley or cracked buckwheat.  Both will require additional liquid and different cooking time in Step 5 since they will cook differently than the potato.  (I usually cook the buckwheat separately in boiling water first and then add it.)  Both bring different flavors to the dish with the buckwheat in particular giving a nutty overtone.

B. No exact measurements used in the recipe.  It's a lot of "this looks about right".