Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Potato-Sausage-Bean Soup with Caraway and Horseradish

By now, dear readers, you can tell the kind of weather we are having here in normally-warm, sunny North Carolina by the many soup recipes I have been posting (and here is yet another!).

We are having unusual, cool, foggy mornings. Wonderful! Damp, rainy, dark afternoons followed by cool evenings. Wonderful! To my friends, I define this forecast as "Michigan weather." They chuckle. And do not approve. Some even call it "depressing."

But ... this weather forces me to wax nostalgic for all things Midwestern. I am not depressed by my roots. Instead, I am inspired. And, in this recipe, the flavorful roots go all the way back to Russia and Lithuania ...

... In particular, the humble potato. Lately, I'm stuck on potato-based soups swimming in savory, smoky, creamy broths. These recipes are all about the out-of-doors and campfires -- without the camping. Indoor hearths with amber embers. Never mind stoves worth thousands of dollars ...

Here, I use store-bought Polish Kielbasa and seasoned butter beans. Oh, seasoned butter beans, where have you been all my life? Yes, I admit it. Sometimes I open a tin ... and eat them cold right out of the can. Am I a hobo? Perhaps. But who could not love that word: HOBO.? A poem in and of itself. And, so, I call them HOBO beans in honor of that glorious class of Americans who rode the rails in the 1930's. Think Pete Seeger ... 

I'm not sure if seasoned, butter beans are a Southern phenomenon. I hope not, for all the world deserves these little gems. Each soft bean tastes like the best ham-and-bean soup you've ever savored. If you do not have access, use cannelloni beans. But do not omit the tiny bit of caraway seed, horseradish or smoked cheddar. Feel free to sub the spinach for kale or escarole.

  • 8 oz. or 1 3/4 cup "onion base" a combination of leek, shallot, yellow onion
  • 8 oz. or 2.5-3 cups rough-chopped white button mushrooms
  • 14-16 oz. skinned, chopped, Russet potatoes, about 2 cups
  • 10-12 oz. smoked sausage, about 1 1/2 cups, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Red pepper flakes ... a pinch or two
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can chicken stock, reduced salt
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can beef stock, reduced salt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup dry, white wine
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can seasoned butter beans, drained
  • 2-3 handfulls chopped greens, such as spinach, kale, escarole ...
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed dry thyme leaves
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed, crushed
  • 1, 5 ounce-can evaporated milk
  • 1/2  cup lightly packed shredded, smoked cheddar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Refrigerated, fresh horseradish
  • Sour cream
  • Additional smoked sausage for garnish

In a dutch oven or soup pot, add your onion mixture and mushrooms with a bit of olive oil and sweat over medium heat just until soft. Remove from pan.

Put a bit more olive oil in the pan. Add diced sausage and fry over medium heat. When the fat begins to render, add the smoked paprika and a bit of red pepper flakes. Add the white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and beef stocks. Bring to a simmer. Add your onion and mushroom mixture, drained seasoned butter beans, potatoes, thyme, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cover and gently cook for about 15 - 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Remove from heat. Mix in the evaporated milk and smoked cheddar. Stir until cheese melts. Taste for salt and pepper. Add the lesser amount of caraway. Stir. Taste again and re-season if necessary. Add the chopped greens. Mix through and place back on low heat until greens are wilted.

To serve, thinly slice a few pieces of sausage to arrange on top. Place a teaspoon of horseradish in the center and a dollop of sour cream. Shave a bit more cheese on top. Enjoy. 

The second day, I reheated a bowl and made a Muenster cheese-and-ham grilled sandwich. I snipped
a bit fresh chives, too.

To slice your potatoes: first, slice lengthwise in half. Slice each half lengthwise again into three strips. Then cut into chunks crosswise.