Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Soup
Harsh, cold weather means you want to come home to the smell of a delicious meal and cuddle up with a warm bowl of hearty, healthy soup. Crock-Pots allow you to prepare your food in the morning. Then they slowly cook that food for the next six to eight hours while you're busy sleeping, getting things done, going to school, or working.
This is a true slow cooker meal with no need for frying or pre-cooking. It’s cooked in two stages to ensure freshness. First, the dried beans are cooked with the veggies on low for 8 hours for a perfectly cooked bean. With this recipe there’s no need for soaking your beans before but if you really need to, go ahead and soak the beans overnight in water.
The meatballs and kale are added 45 minutes before serving. The meatballs are simply made from Italian sausage that’s rolled into mini meatballs. The fat in the sausage balls keeps them from needing a sear before cooking as it acts as the glue holding the meat together. For presentations sake, if you want a browner meatball, you could sear them before, but seriously, they’ll taste the same.
SLOW COOKER TUSCAN WHITE BEAN AND SAUSAGE SOUP
16 ounces dried Great Northern beans
8 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 sprigs thyme
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground Italian sausage
4 cups baby kale leaves
1 can diced tomatoes
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Pour the dry beans into the base of a 6 quart slow cooker with the chicken broth, can of tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook on low for 8 hours. Meanwhile, form the sausage into small meatballs and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Add the baby kale and then the sausage meatballs and cook for 30-45 minutes or until the sausage is cooked through and the beans are tender. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve with shaved Parmesan cheese scattered on top.