August 31st made it one year of me living in San Francisco, and I am falling harder for this city with each passing day. I can't get enough of the hills, the people, the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, and the architecture (bay window swooning like 24/7). I've even grown to appreciate that three quarters of the city shuts down and goes to bed at 10pm even on weekends, and I can't help but laugh when I walk through a cloud of weed smoke on my morning commute.
But if there was one leeeettle thing I could complain about (c’mon you knew there would be) it's that this City is so damn CHILLY! Guys, August was the coldest month of the year so far! What the what?! As a native of one of the sweatiest regions in the country, I'm perplexed. Well, my mind is perplexed. My stomach, on the other hand, has adapted just fine, by starting to crave soup two full months ago. Soup! In August! Of course I wasn't having it. I busied myself instead with noodles and allowed one tiny exception of a soup that was just adventurous enough to be a thing unto itself.
What I'm saying is, I've been waiting for this moment for two full months. So let's not waste another minute getting to it. It's officially soup season in the northern hemisphere!! And this soup is such a worthy season opener.
Chocked full of carrot coins, diced peppers, white beans, sausage, and leafy greens it makes a perfectly fine meal on it's own. But I won't pretend that a grilled cheese on the side doesn't take it to full soup nirvana, because you know good and well it does. Spicy is in the name, and if you follow the directions as written that won't be a lie. It's definitely got some kicky heat to it; that subtle back of the throat heat which I love and crave. If you're not so much into the heat or don't have the stomach for it (I feel you), use a mild or sweet Italian sausage and hold back on the red pepper flakes. We threw a Parmesan rind into the pot while it cooked and it added an unbeatable creamy finish, so use it if you've got it. This recipe makes quite a bit so you might want to freeze half you are only feeding two people. I was planning to freeze some myself, but we ended up finishing the pot for dinner last night. The soup waiting game is over to say the least.
Spicy Sausage and White Bean Soup, adapted liberally from Bon Appétit
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large peppers, chopped (I used 1 green, 1 red)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into coins
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
1 28-oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans white beans,1 drained and rinsed
1 bunch chard or kale
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
Place a large Dutch oven or stockpot on the stove over medium. Add the sausage, and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until well browned with some crispy bits, about 10 minutes. Transfer sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the onion, peppers, carrots, and tablespoon or oil if needed for the vegetables to not stick (I needed it). Allow the vegetables to cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender and have sweated enough to release the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, about 8 minutes.
Add the garlic, rosemary, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for about 2 minutes more. Stir in chicken stock, tomatoes and their juices, reserved sausage, and Parmesan rind if using. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat, cover with a lid, and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and empty the can of drained and rinsed beans into the pot. Using a blender (though this would also work with a potato masher) blend half of the un-rinsed can of beans along with most of the liquid from the can. Add the purée along with whatever beans and juices are left in the can to the pot. Rip the chard or kale into bite sized pieces, toss them in, and give everything a good stir. Simmer for at least 10 minutes more (though after that you can pretty much let it hang out in the pot with the burner off until you're ready and I left mine for a good 30).
Remove the Parmesan rind before serving. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with cheese if you wish (though we didn't need it), and swan dive in!