The quality of sausage will shine in this preparation, so use something really good like Grott o Meats’ fresh Italian sausage available only direct-to-consumer at farmers markets. Home-cooked beans are great but use canned if that makes things easier. If you’re using canned beans, rinse and drain them and use water instead of bean broth for the soup.
2 cups cannellini beans (make fresh or use canned, rinsed and drained)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ pound fresh Italian sausage (spicy if desired), removed from casing
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red chili fl akes
10–12 kale leaves, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water or bean broth from homemade beans
Freshly ground black pepper
If making fresh, cook the beans slightly al dente: Soak overnight, drain, and rinse, then cook on low in water with a bay leaf for approximately 3 hours. Alternatively, use a slow cooker set to low and check beginning at 2 hours.
Heat olive oil in a soup pot and add the sausage. When the sausage has browned and is about halfway cooked, add the onion, garlic, and red chili flakes and cook until onion has soft ened, about 5 minutes. Add the kale and tomatoes and let them soften. Add beans, broth, salt, and pepper, cover the pot, and bring to boil. Vent the lid and lower heat to maintain a slow simmer. Cook for 1 hour to incorporate the flavors. Add salt and pepper to suit your taste. Can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month.