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. (https://dreamsofmyfava.com/2013/01/02/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.

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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 (http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781402768149-5) 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 (https://dreamsofmyfava.com/2013/01/03/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.