When the weather is all drippy and cold and the days are shorter and dimmer like now, I tend to make hearty soups that I can have for lunches during the week. I am particularly fond of bean soups. Searching for soup recipes that call for pinto beans results in lots of Tex-Mex style soups like chili, tortilla soup, taco soup or soups with ham. I wanted something a little different this time. I decided to try Tuscan style flavorings with the creamy pinto beans and see how it works out. The result was pretty darn satisfying. First some notes.
While I seldom add it to the recipes for beans, I nearly always toss in a Tbsp of Summer Savory in all my bean dishes. It’s a digestive aid for flatulence and colic per Wikipedia. It’s sort of like adding Beano to your bean dishes. The flavor is slightly sweet and delicate so it’s a great match for beans.
I buy chicken Italian sausage in 16 oz tubes when it is on sale, cut it into 3rds (2 servings per the package) and freeze. I also buy vegetables that store longer like kale and cauliflower and use parts of it here and there throughout the week. I also purchase bulk barley, oat groats, lentils, wheat berries, etc. and keep them in quart jars. These practices make it easy for me to add an assortment of legumes and grains to soups and other dishes. You can substitute all the grains and legumes (except the pintos obviously) with brown rice but remember you will be changing the result from very low glycemic to a more medium glycemic meal. The beans can, of course, be switched for another type of bean.
Tuscan Pinto Bean Soup
1 Cup Dry Pinto Beans, soaked and drained
1/2 Cup Pearled Barley
1/4 Cup Oat Groats
1/4 Cup Lentil
5 oz Chicken Italian Sausage (approx)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 or 3 leaves of kale, stemmed and chopped
1 each 15 oz can chopped tomatoes, low sodium
1/2 tsp each of fennel seed, oregano, basil and minced dried rosemary
2 Cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 quart of water, plus as needed
red chili flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste.
Chop you vegetables and herbs. In a 3 quart or bigger sauce pan, saute the sausage and vegetables except the kale, breaking up the sausage as you ‘sweat’ the vegetables until no longer pink. Add the seasonings and the grains. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes, beans and water. Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer until the beans and grains are soft, about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours. Add the kale and cook for about 20 minutes or so until the flavors have melded. If the soup is too thick, add water and adjust the seasonings. The result is a delicious pot of soup. I package it up in 1 pint containers for lunches this week. Grab a toasty piece of whole grain bread or corn muffin and enjoy!