All those holiday dinners got everything in your system backed up, but you still want something warm and hearty during the winter months? A nice bean soup is in order! Plus, with a slow cooker, it’s a great time-saver when you’ve got a long list of awful holiday errands to do.
Ideally I like to do this with a ham hock, as outlined in popular recipe blog Budget Bytes. But the hell mouth of a supermarket that I frequent is often out of them! Out of convenience, this version uses any old smoked sausage, such as garlic coil, “Ukrainian” sausage, “Polish” sausage, or even a salami or pepperoni or Spanish chorizo. I’ve also done it with salt pork, though one should use very little of it because it’s so salty. Uncooked sausage works well too, if crumbled and browned first.
To further enhance the high-fibre experience of this soup and for a micronutrient kick, I’ve added kale. This can be substituted with Swiss chard or spinach, if you like. It could also be skipped entirely if, for example, you are healing from wisdom teeth removal surgery.
Slow Cooker Bean, Sausage, & Kale Soup
Adapted from Budget Bytes
Time: overnight + all day (but only 15 min active prep)
- 450 g dried beans. I used pinto.
- 1200 ml water for soaking (see more info below)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 300 g any smoked sausage (or more)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried red chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp chicken stock powder, or one bouillon cube
- 1500 ml water (or just enough to cover ingredients)
- 4-5 leaves of curly kale
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Soak beans in a big bowl at room temperature overnight in 1200 ml of water, more or less. There should be several cm of water above the top of the beans to accommodate the gradual absorption of liquid and volume increase of the beans.
- I prefer to also do this step the night before. Cut up the garlic and all the vegetables, as well as the sausage. The sausage can be cut into large, bite-sized chunks or into smaller cubes—I prefer the latter. Store these ingredients in containers in the fridge or, if you have enough room, store them in the removable pot of the slow cooker placed in the fridge so you don’t have to wash extra dishes!
- The next morning, put garlic, veggies, and sausage into the slow cooker (if they’re not already in there). Add bay leaves.
- Drain the soaked beans. Put them on top of the other ingredients in the slow cooker.
- Add other dried herbs, chili, cumin, and chicken stock powder. Then add 1500 ml water, or just enough to cover all ingredients.
- Set the slow cooker to 8-10 hours on Low. Then get on with your day.
- After 8-10 hours, fish out the bay leaves. Then I like to take a wire potato masher to break up about half of the beans. This gives the soup a thicker texture that is more like a chowder. If you like your soup chunkier, mash it up less or don’t mash it at all. If you want it super smooth, consider applying an immersion blender.
- Tear the kale leaves into small pieces, excluding the super fibrous midribs. Stir them into the soup and turn the slow cook up to High. Cook for another 10-15 min to cook the kale.
- Add freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Serve with toast, crusty bread, or crackers. I like Triscuits!