1 pound dried small white beans, such as Vallarta Beans from Rancho Gordo
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces cooked chicken sausage, such as Applegate Farms Organic Fire Roasted Red Pepper Sausage, diced
2 large stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
The night before you want to cook this soup, soak the beans by placing them in a bowl and covering them completely with cold water.
The next day, heat the oven to 300°F. Heat the olive oil in a large (4-quart or larger) Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage has browned — about 10 minutes. Stir in the diced celery, carrots, onion, and garlic and cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes until they are soft. Drain the beans and stir them into the vegetables.
Pour in the chicken stock and an additional 4 cups water. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous quantity of black pepper. Drop in the bay leaves. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and put in the oven.
Cook for 2 to 3 hours in the oven, or until the beans are very soft and creamy. (Time can vary widely depending on the size of beans you use.)
The soup can also be cooked on the stovetop over low flame. It will need a similar amount of timing for cooking, and should also be cooked with the lid on. Check a little more frequently to make sure the bottom isn’t scorching.
Stir in the cider vinegar and salt to taste (I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons). Continue cooking for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the beans have absorbed some of the salt.
Serve with fresh crusty bread. Leftovers freeze well.
Photo: Faith Durand