Inside Out

Something about hearty bean soups makes me think of that part of fall that seems very like winter. Mornings are met with either heavy frost on the ground or a sprinkling of snow, a promise of what's to come. Those are the days when I want a bowl of that comfort food to battle the chills that seem inevitable this time of the year. Thankfully, I don't need to babysit a stockpot on the stove to get one of my very favorite mixed bean soups:

All I need to do is pull out my slow cooker. In the morning, I fry some sausage and crumble it, along with some veggies and dried beans, into my slow cooker and douse it all in a combination of chicken broth and water. Hours later, I add some chopped kale and half & half and I end up with a creamy, hearty soup. Add some crusty bread or, better yet, some cornbread dotted with fried onions and cheese, and it's a meal that will have you a little less wary of the chilly scene that greets you at your door this time of the year.

If you want a little more in the way of heartiness, you could opt to serve a bowl of this simple soup alongside a hot sandwich of your choosing or maybe even a simple salad that's been dotted with chopped apples, crumbled blue cheese, and roasted pumpkin seeds. Either approach would make the meal more substantial, if that's what you are looking for. Me? I'll stick with a big bowl of soup and some kind of bread that doesn't mind getting dipped over and over into the warm bowl of comfort food. Stay warm!

Slow Cooker Sausage & Kale Soup

  • 1 lb. sausage -- browned (I chose a pork-bacon variety I enjoy, but choose whichever variety makes sense for you and your family)
  • 1 onion, peeled and loosely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. dried mixed beans, rinsed and sorted to remove any debris
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 c. loosely chopped kale
  • 1 c. half & half
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste

Brown the sausage in a pan and place in your slow cooker.

Add the onion, garlic, dried beans, and chicken broth. If needed, add just enough water to cover everything in the pot.

Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 5-6 hours or until the beans and onions are soft. 30 minutes prior to serving, add the kale and half & half to the pot, stir.

Cook an additional 30 minutes and add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Serve hot.

  • Yields: 5-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 6-7 hours

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