Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grown Up Beanie Weanies

It's officially Fall in Chicagoland and after two days of frost on the ground and very cold winds in the air, I decided to embrace the season with my husband's favorite soup.  I call it Chicken Sausage and White Bean Cassoulet but really it tastes like a grown up version of Beanie Weanies.  Chicken apple sausages are roasted in the oven, then sliced and added to a wonderful base of onions, carrots, thyme and bay leaves that have been sauteing in Applewood smoked bacon fat.  White wine, chicken stock, tomato paste and white beans finish off the soup creating layers of delicious flavor.  Served with a topping of crispy bacon and a fresh baguette, the first bite will make you want to curl up on the couch with a nice fire and a fuzzy blanket!

I'm not sure if any of the ingredients in this soup are on sale at local grocery stores, but all ingredients can be found at Trader Joe's.  Those who shop there frequently are familiar with their consistently low prices on wine, nuts, grains, frozen foods, some meats and produce. Other grocery stores will have the items in this recipe, but you will most likely pay more for the sausage, bacon, produce and wine.  Try to find Trader Joe's Sweet Chicken Apple Sausage.  Tonight I used Smoked Chicken Apple and it was too smokey.  I prefer the sweetness from the other, or Amy's Chicken Apple Sausage which may be purchased in bulk at Costco.  Splurge on Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, also sold at Trader Joe's.  This is the best bacon on the planet!!  

3 packages chicken apple sausage(4 to 5 sausages per package)
1 onion chopped
8 to 10 ounces baby peeled carrots
4 thyme sprigs, or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 to 3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound thick sliced center cut bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 15 ounce cans white cannellini beans
  • Crusty baguette, for serving


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the chicken sausage on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. The sausage will not be fully cooked through.  Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a large stock pot and place over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook stirring every now and then until crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the crispy bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate and reserve.  To the same pot, add the chopped onion and carrots and sweat the mixture in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat for 10 minutes, until the onion begins to turn translucent.  Add garlic and sweat for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Slice the chicken sausage on the bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces and add them to pot. Add the remaining bay leaves and thyme, stirring for 5 minutes. Next add the wine, chicken broth, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high, bringing the mixture to a boil. Stir well to dissolve the tomato paste and lower the heat. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the beans and let the cassoulet simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Spoon into a bowl, sprinkle the top of each serving with some of the reserved crispy bacon and serve with a crusty baguette on the side.

My kids know this as "Hot Dog Soup".  Because they like their food separated on the plate, I take out the main components, sausage, beans and carrots, and plate it with a piece of bread.  It's not as popular as pizza, but I do hear "hot dogs yummy!" 

**This is my easy version of a much more labor intensive recipe found on the Food Network website.  It is a true Cassoulet recipe with duck sausage, kielbasa sausage, and dried beans that are soaked and slow cooked.  I'm sure it is wonderful, but I prefer chicken sausage and the convenience of canned beans. 

1 comment:

  1. Once again I am having trouble with the format. Sorry, and if anyone has any clue about how to fix this please let me know!