Cranberry bean soup with potato, Swiss chard, and banger sausage from the Underground Food Collective

This soup is a textbook example of how a single ingredient can inspire a new creation. And, perhaps more importantly, how one can repurpose leftover ingredients to make something entirely new and completely delicious.

When I was at the Underground Food Collective’s butcher shop this past Saturday, I decided to buy a sausage to go with cranberry beans that I’d cooked earlier in the week. But I wasn’t sure which sausage to get or what to make. There were several options, including a Moroccan goat sausage and chorizo, both of which sounded good. But I decided to go with the English banger, a simpler, non-assertively flavored pork sausage. Then, when I came home from Madison, I put it away and pretty much forgot about it.

Sunday night, as dinner time approached, I looked in the fridge to see what was available. I’d been so caught up in blogging and cleaning and general business that I hadn’t even thought about planning for dinner. Plus I knew in the back of my head that there was plenty of food. But what?

As it turns out, I had about 2 cups of leftover cranberry beans with perhaps 3 cups of their cooking liquid. If you don’t have leftovers, here’s a link to my post on cooking basic beans. ( It’s easy.

Returning to my search for pre-cooked food, I also found about 1 cup of Swiss chard leftover from Sunday morning’s breakfast potato, apple, and fennel hash. Then, I noticed a single, lonely Yukon Gold potato on the counter, just on the verge of sprouting. It definitely needed to be used. Inspiration: I would riff on Portugese kale soup. Simple, easy, and sure to be delicious.

cranberry bean soupThis photo is from yesterday morning, when the soup was cold. Which I don’t recommend for either eating or photographing. Except when seen cold, it is evident that there’s almost no fat in this soup except for the sausage itself. Which is pretty cool.

I could have made it without the sausage, of course, and it would have been pretty good. In fact, the next time I have leftover beans, I probably will make a vegetarian version. With the sausage, however, it was absolutely brilliant, hearty and satisfying without being cloying. Plus the sausage inspired the soup, so I suppose the vegetarian version to come could not exist without the carnivorous mother. Here’s the recipe. If you try, I hope you like!

2 c. cooked cranberry beans, with cooking liquid or broth
1 medium sized Yukon gold potato, diced
1 c. cooked Swiss chard or other cooked greens, chopped
1 mildly-flavored sausage

1. Brown the sausage on all sides, for 7-10 minutes over medium-high heat.

2. Meanwhile, combine the beans, their cooking liquid or the broth, and the potatoes in a medium saucepan. Salt to taste, depending on how highly seasoned your cranberry beans are, and bring to a simmer. Add the sausage, cover, and cook on low for 15-20 minutes. Remove the sausage and transfer to a cutting board. Add the greens to the pot, cover, and turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes or so and then slice the sausage into half rounds. Stir the sliced sausage into the soup. Serve with lightly toasted bread.

Vegetable stew with wheatberries and cranberry beans

This dish is actually two separate recipes, both of which are all-day, long cooking kinda foods. I posted the cranberry bean recipe on January 3, when I made the beans that became part of this dish. It makes a large batch, so I simply froze some for later.

The vegetable stew component, which I made yesterday, is my adaptation of a recipe that appears in Terry Walters’ Clean Food ( as “Stovetop Barley with Sweet Vegetables.” I switched it up by using wheatberries instead of barley and soy sauce instead of tamari. And I added the beans. So, really, this is a completely different recipe. I can’t vouch for the original, as I’ve never tried it, but this version is very good. If you make it, be aware that this is a LOT of food, especially with the beans. I’m afraid to freeze it, as I fear the vegetables would turn to mush, but I may try this time. Also, I haven’t yet tried, but I suspect this recipe would work in the crock pot…

4 cups cooked cranberry beans with garlic, sage, and olive oil (

1 c. wheatberries
1/2 c. brown rice (I use basmati, but I don’t think it matters)
1 thumb-sized piece kombu
2 T dark soy sauce or tamari
4-1/2 c. water
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
12 Brussels sprouts, halved
1 sm. fennel bulb, halved, cored, and sliced

1. Soak wheatberries and rice together for 1 hour with water to cover. Rinse and drain, and place in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add kombu, soy sauce or tamari, and water. Cover and bring to a boil.

2. When the grains begin to boil, add the vegetables in the order listed. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Remove from the heat and stir in beans.