Uncle Smokey here today with an old family recipe for the cold winter days – sausage soup. It’s a thick and meaty meal – and best of all needs only one-pot! Love one pot meals since I don’t much like doing dishes.

Warm Soup for Cold Winter Days

I call it soup, but it is bordering on a stew. There is little water left when you are done, and mostly just thick filling bites.

This soup was popular during the winter months because it could be put on the back of the wood stove to simmer slowly all day. It works well in a modern crock pot too. An off-grider asked me if it would work in an instant-pot because they don’t use a crock pot – but often turn the generator on once the sun goes down. Answer is – I believe it would. Some of the kin would put this up in quart canning jars, so a pressure type cooking situation should work.

Cranberry beans work well in this soup. They are named for the cranberry color, not the robust flavor.

Main Ingredients

Sausage. Beans. Potatoes. Green things – Fennel, kale, other fresh greens.

Which Sausage? Any sausage that you like. Chorizo is spicy and nice. Portuguese linguiça sausage lends meatiness as well as bit of spice. I used a mild breakfast sausage on occasion, but skip the sagey ones if you use fennel. The flavors clash. To be honest, I have even made this winter soup with some hamburger.

Which Beans? Not a fan of pinto beans for this. Works good with white or Navy beans. Used some Anazazi beans once because I had them – and that worked well. Black-eyed “peas” works well too.

Potatoes. These help thicken the soup. But if you want to boost the protein and reduce carbohydrates a tad, then take about ½ the beans and mash them up to thicken the soup.

I’m not a kale fan but if you like it and you have some – use it!

Green Things. Fennel stores well and is about at the end of it’s shelf life in February, so goes into this soup. A few fennel seeds heighten the licorice notes of the fennel. If you garden and have fresh kale or chard, or even beet greens, get them ready. Green onions too.

(Editor’s note – I’itoi onion green tops are available in the winter months if you grow these desert adapted bunching onions.  Come to think, these I’itoi onion scones might taste great with this soup!)

Rumex is related to rhubarb. Nice foraged find in the winter.

Foraged greens? Sure! I usually find some weedy mustards in the Southwest in February and they work. Wild dock (Rumex species) works well too. An old-timer I knew called it “miners spinach” because he ate it when he was out working his claim near the Dragoon Mountains. There are a number of different species of Rumex, and all the young leaves add a nice tart taste to this soup.

Sonoran Sausage Soup

8 ounces sausage, 
     cut into ½ inch chunks or crumbled if it's not a firm sausage
olive oil to cook sausage in
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup dry beans
6 -8 cups water, chicken broth, or beef broth
1 medium onion diced fine
3 medium potatoes diced fine or grated.
ham hock if you have one
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced crosswise
1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
8 cups lightly packed greens, 
     cut finely so they don't string off your spoon
salt and black pepper to taste

Put the sausage and some oil in the pot and brown it. In a crock pot you can’t do this, but I do put it on the bottom so the sausage oils can bubble up through the beans.

Add beans, onion, potatoes, smoked paprika, liquid, and a ham hock if you have it.

Chop the onion fine so the pieces cook down well and help thicken this soup.

Simmer this until the beans are done.

Once beans are cooked, and at least ½ hour before serving, add the fennel, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Stir this in well to let the fennel cook.

Rumex, parsley, mustard greens, cilantro, onion greens. Add some of all these greens if you like them.

After you add the fennel, add the greens like kale, but don’t stir them in. You just put them on the top of the post so they get steamed and wilty, not overcooked.

Once the greens are wilted, stir them in and serve.

Optionally – top with grated cheese.

You can double this if you have a big pot, and it’s worth it because then you have a nice meal for several days.  It will just keep getting tastier, although the veggies might get tired looking.

Veggies get tired if you rewarm it a few times, but it still tastes great!

To learn to use other Sonoran herbs, visit Savorist Monica King Saturdays at the Arivaca’s Farmers Market, or come to one of Savorist Jacqueline Soule’s free lectures. We try to mention both on our Facebook page. We both have copies of “Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today (Tierra del Sol Institute Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there we may get a few pennies.

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