In the south, “winter” is a loosely defined term.
Sometimes it means 75 degrees, flip-flops, shorts, and a football sweatshirt. Other days, it is defined as freezing temperatures, layers, more layers, gloves, and a freak snowstorm which requires at least another layer.
But this week, we are in a weather gray zone. Not quite warm- it hovers around the lower fifties, upper forties; drizzly, with no snow; and fog. Fog in the morning, fog in the evening, fog in the noontime.
And it’s times like these that call for soup. It’s the one time a year I feel (somewhat) urban with my cooking, imagining myself walking home from the market around the corner, toting a super cool umbrella and handmade grocery bag, skipping up to my loft and making a big pot of stew from locally grown organic tomatoes, hand-fed chicken broth, and the cilantro I raised in my rooftop garden.
But, back to reality, my tiny foggy kitchen, and the February “Winter Comforts” issue of Bon Appetit. Their Chorizo and White Bean Stew recipe caught my eye- the flavor profile was spicy, balanced by the beans, and quick. Looking for a way to make due of what I currently had in my refrigerator (and not being able to retro-bike to my nearest fresh foods market) I substituted spicy Italian turkey sausage for the chorizo, splurged on fresh thyme at Publix, added some smoked paprika, and got simmering.
This soup hit the spot, easily one of the best I have made in a while, and made me long for the end of the in-between: when fog clears, the sun comes out, winter needs no definition, and it’s time for flip-flops again. But this time without the layers.
Spicy Turkey Sausage and White Bean Soup
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit
What You Need
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 1 1b spicy Italian turkey sausage (or you could use mild for a sweeter flavor)
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 sprig thyme
- 2 15-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 5 ounces baby spinach (about 10 cups)
- Smoked paprika
What You Will Do
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Mine took about 23 minutes; I think turkey sausage links take a bit longer to cook through. Transfer the sausage to a plate.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same skillet. Make sure you keep all of those delicious pork bits in the pan to saute with your veggies. Add the onion slices, garlic, and thyme sprig. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5-8 minutes. I like to add the garlic later; at about six minutes. Because burned garlic is no good to anyone.
3. Add the rinsed beans and broth and cook, crushing a few beans with the back of a spoon to thicken sauce, until slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Watch the soup here; mine needed a bit longer to thicken. When it is the consistency of a chili, it’s perfect. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach by the handfuls and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes.
4. Slice the turkey sausage and fold it into stew; add water to thin, if you like. Normally I don’t like to add water because I feel it dilutes the flavor, but this is a thicker soup, so you have some room to play. Taste it again to make sure your salt and pepper ratio is working.
5. Divide the soup among bowls; drizzle with oil. I highly recommend sprinkling it with more paprika, and then some more just for good measure.