I think we’re experiencing one of the last cold spells of the year here in Louisiana, so I wanted to make one last hearty, soul-warming soup. This soup was incredibly easy, but boasts huge flavor and major filling power. In short, it’s AWESOME.
Lately I’ve been trying to ween myself off of my bouillon crutch. I usually use chicken bouillon (Better Than Bouillon brand) to add oomph to my soups and just make the whole process super easy and flavorful. What I’ve found recently, though, is that I really enjoy the subtly of broths made simply by the vegetables and herbs that I use in the soup. This soup is a perfect example. Plus, this way you can be in complete control over the sodium.
I used smoked sausage in this soup, but there are a couple of options if you don’t want to use sausage. You can substitute the sausage with bacon (about 6 ounces should do), or you can use a smoked ham hock. The ham hock doesn’t need to be sauteed, just add it in when with the beans, herbs, and water. If you want to do a vegetarian version, just add a little liquid smoke to give the broth that nice smokey depth. The vegetables and herbs should add all of the flavor that you need!
This recipe makes a huge batch, but it can be easily halved… which I totally should have done! Oh well, guess I’ll have some stocked in my freezer for a while. No complaints here. It’s delish!
Oh, P.S. Both my sausage and spinach were on sale. One hint for spinach… avoid the small, salad sized bags of spinach and look for the large bags of “cooking spinach”. They’re about three times the size of bagged salad spinach and contain the exact same thing. Mine was on sale for $2.50, which is less than the small bags of “salad” spinach!!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
- 14 oz. smoked sausage $2.79
- 1 medium onion $0.36
- 2 cloves garlic $0.16
- ½ lb. (about 3) carrots $0.50
- 3 stalks celery $0.60
- 1 lb. (2 cups) dry navy beans $1.69
- 1 whole bay leaf $0.15
- 1 tsp dried thyme $0.05
- ½ tsp dried rosemary $0.03
- to taste freshly cracked pepper $0.03
- 8 cups water $0.00
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach $0.50
- ½ Tbsp salt $0.07
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar $0.02
- The night before, sort through the beans to remove any stones or debris. Place the beans in a bowl and cover them with cool water. Allow the beans to soak in the refrigerator over night.
- Slice the sausage in to medallions and add them to a large soup pot along with one tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the sausage over medium heat until it is nicely browned (about five minutes). Drain off the excess fat.
- While the sausage is browning, dice the onion, carrot, and celery into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the soup pot after the sausage fat has been drained off. Saute for about five minutes more. The moisture released by the vegetables will dissolve any browned bits off of the bottom of the pot.
- Drain the soaked beans and give them a good rinse with fresh water. Add the rinsed beans to the pot along with the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, some freshly cracked pepper, and 8 cups of water. Stir everything to combine. Turn the heat up to high and allow the soup to come up to a full boil.
- Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the soup to gently boil for two hours. You want the beans to go past the point of tenderness to the point where they are falling apart. Stir the pot occasionally.
- After gently boiling for a couple of hours, use a large wooden spoon to smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. This will help thicken the soup. Stir in the fresh spinach until wilted. Season the soup with salt. Start with just a ½ teaspoon at a time and add more until it is to your desired saltiness (I used ½ tablespoon total). Lastly, stir in the apple cider vinegar. Serve hot.
Step By Step Photos
The soup starts with these ingredients. They all come together with a few herbs to make a wonderfully flavorful broth without any bouillon. Oh yeah, start soaking the beans the night before.
Cut the sausage into medallions and brown it with a little bit of olive oil over medium heat. Pour off the excess fat.
While the sausage is browning, dice the onion, carrot, and celery into small pieces. This soup is totally veggie-licious, but I didn’t want it to be too chunky, so I cut all of them into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Add the vegetables to the pot with the sausage and saute for about five more minutes. The moisture will help dissolve all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot (aka “flavor”).
Now I’m ready to use those beans that have been soaking all night. Pour off the water that they soaked in and then give them a good rinse.
Add the rinsed beans, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and some freshly cracked pepper to the pot.
Add 8 cups of water and stir until everything is combined. Turn the heat up to high and bring the pot up to a full boil. Having a lid in place will help it come to a boil faster.
Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it gently boil for two hours. I didn’t use a lid during this step, I just let it boil away. This long boiling process will help the beans break down, but you’ll want to use your spoon to smoosh some of the beans against the wall of the pot. After you start doing that, the soup will really start to thicken up.
Stir in the fresh spinach until it’s wilted. Lastly, season the soup with salt and about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Serve hot!
Yum! So hearty, so easy, SO delicious!