Serves 8 (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups soup, 4 meatballs, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese)
Photo: Christopher Testani; Styling: Alistair Turnbull
6 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
5 garlic cloves, chopped
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
12 ounces dried Great Northern beans
3 cups kale, stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound hot Italian sausage links, casings removed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
How to Make It
Place first 8 ingredients in a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Discard thyme and bay leaf.
Stir kale, tomato paste, and salt into bean mixture. Shape sausage into 32 meatballs; arrange on top of bean mixture. Cover and cook on HIGH 30 minutes or until meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Stir in juice. Divide soup among 8 bowls; top with cheese.
Next time, place the beans in enough cold water to cover the beans. Cover the pot. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and leave covered. Drain the beans until there is no color coming from them. Add to your recipe and cook as directed. This is called the "quick soak method". Always works for me. Good luck.
I loved the ease of this recipe but, like another reviewer, I'm not sure Italian sausage was the right fit. We adore hot Italian sausage and add it to everything (e.g. often sub it for regular ground meat in lasagna, baked ziti, even chili), but it just seemed out of place here. Might try again with a different sausage, because otherwise the soup is tasty and a cinch to prepare.
I used Bob's Red Mill Small White Beans (2 cups) and 64 oz (1 1/2 cups more than recipe called for) of Progresso's reduced sodium chicken stock and they came out perfect. My sausage balls were about an inch big and were cooked through at 30 minutes. Maybe it was your crock-pot.
There were a lot off good elements to this recipe and some room for improvement. The prep work to get everything ready for the crock pot was a breeze. I love cooking with beans and that element of the soup was wonderful. In regards to room for improvement, I'm not sure hot Italian sausage was the right protein. I'm not sure if it was the sausage or the sausage mixed with the flavor from the bay but it was pretty overpowering. Weird as I actually like Italian sausage. Next time I'm going to try it with kielbasa or a milder chicken sausage. I really did like the recipe as a whole and will make it again with a different protein
This is great... with my adjustments it is 5 star! First off, I soaked the beans for 24 hours to soften. Then I sautee'd the veggies for 5-8 minutes to bring out flavor. Deglazed the pan with some of my HOMEMADE chicken stock. Added some leftover diced ham. Used Trader Joe's chicken sausage with sundried tomatoes and basil. Just threw the links at the beginning in to cook, then sliced them up at the same time as adding the kale and threw them back in. The only issue with this method is the casing will be just about impossible to remove, if it bothers you. YUMMY!
I thought this would be a great Thanksgiving eve dinner -- light and pretty healthy. The broth was very tasty and the vegetables were nicely tender. My only complaint is that after soaking the beans 12 hours (at another reviewers suggestion), the beans were still kind of hard. I'm wondering if cooking on low never gave the beans much time to cook through. I'll give this recipe another try. Right now, it's on the stove top cooking. Hopefully the beans will soften.
I like using the slow cooker, and this dish was straightforward and easy to pull together. I used pinto beans instead of the Great Northern beans and was happy with the results. Overall this dish isn't exciting, but the hot Italian sausage meatballs added some nice zip. The soup tasted light and healthy and was filling. I served it with some toasted multi-grain bread. I made the soup for just my husband and me, and I was able to freeze enough leftovers for two more hearty suppers. I would definitely make this again the next time I'm craving a cozy dinner.
I am thrilled to have found this recipe because it is hearty and filling enough to satisfy my husband. It has so much flavor, and yet has very simple ingredients. It was also very easy and quick to throw together. I used hot turkey Italian sausage which made very tender meatballs. Served with cornbread. There was just one problem ... the beans were still crunchy. I cooked it as called for in the recipe, and in a brand new slow cooker, so the slow cooker was not the problem as another reviewer lamented. I will definitely make this soup again, but next time I will soak the beans overnight first. I highly recommend this soup!
Made to recipe over two days using home-made stock (which probably gave us a richer finish than if we'd used broth). First day was just step #1, then put soup in fridge overnight. Second day re-heated soup to high and added curly kale & sausage-balls to finish. Nice color from the kale & liked the bit of heat from the turkey sausage. Crusty ciabbatta rolls at the table. Great on a very cold and rainy day.
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