Hey everyone, today I have a very special recipe to share with you. It is one that has been passed down several generations, and it is certainly a family favorite. There is no secret ingredient here, no secret method or surprisingly marvelous tips included to make it a perfect meal. No, this is actually a very simple recipe.
My great-grandmother lived to be 104 years old, and this is her recipe. She lived through so many crazy decades–we have photographic proof that she was, in fact, a bona fide flapper in the 20s! I think that it was probably her experience with the Great Depression that inspired this soup. 1 pound of meat + canned vegetables + potatoes…yeah, this is a bowl full of frugal heaven.
Try to get over the canned ingredients. I don’t usually use canned ingredients in the Tansey kitchen, and when I do I always drain and rinse the contents. But here, you just dump it all into the pot. (Wait, don’t leave! I did say this was Depression-era, remember? Waste not, want not.) Yes, fresh is always better. Yes, fresh is always healthier. But yes, you have to use the canned stuff in this recipe. It just wouldn’t be Sausage Bean Soup otherwise.
My mother and grandmother have always purchased their 1 lb of Italian Sausage in link form, then cut off the casings and browned the meat. That was all well and good until I discovered that most stores now sell Italian Sausage without the casings–score! So much easier. I never liked playing with those casings.
The spices are the most important part of this recipe. They take this from plain ol’ soup to HOLY HECK, THAT’S DELICIOUS! That bay leaf alone imparts a ton of flavor. And according to my great-grandmother, whoever is lucky enough to have the bay leaf in their bowl gets another helping. (See? Depression-era rations.) And not that it’s super important to me, but my mother claims that Lowry’s Garlic Salt is the only acceptable brand. You decide.
About the beans. The original recipe apparently called for kidney beans, but because my grandmother does not care for them the recipe has evolved to include pinto beans, instead. I, however, love all beans. (All beans matter!) So I often do a combination of the two–one can of pintos, one can of kidneys, etc.
Anyway. For the potatoes, I like to use red potatoes because they don’t have to be peeled. And, well, I just think they’re tastier. My mother and grandmother often use russets, but the soup is delicious either way.
Make sure the dice the potatoes and green pepper into pretty even chunks…they are the last ingredients added to the pot, and once they’re cooked through, the soup is ready. So you want them to cook evenly.
We always serve this with a crusty, buttered baguette. On this particular occasion we enjoyed it alongside a bottle of dry French red, which was spot on. Said additions may defeat the purpose of frugality buy hey, I can only take this thing so far!
Please, please try this soup the next time that it is cold, rainy, or snowy wherever you are. It is the ultimate comfort soup, and keeps well in both the fridge or freezer. I usually double the recipe (as in these pictures) to make sure we have tons of leftovers.
If you try this out, send us a pic! And enjoy!
- 1 lb mild Italian sausage
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 32-oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups water
- 2 cans pinto beans
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup potatoes, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- In a large soup pot, cook pork sausage and onion until done. Drain well and return to the pot. Combine the sausage, beans, tomatoes, water and spices, stir well. Simmer, covered, for one hour.
- Add potatoes and bell pepper. Cook 15-20 more minutes or until the potatoes are tender.