Sonoran Sausage Soup – Hearty with Beans

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 – it only needs one pot! Love one pot meals since I don’t much like doing dishes.

Cover photo is a batch with lots of beans and cheese sprinkled in.

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.

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Not the most photogenic meal, but filling and tasty.

This soup was common in the Southwest in the pioneer days, and still is found cooking on the stoves in the remoter mountain regions of Sonora. My family had this often during the Depression. Ma considers it a comfort food since it reminds her of childhood. Grandma never wanted to see it again.

Sausage soup is great in the winter months – because you can put it 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” which is a type of electric pressure cooker. An electric device I asked?! Sure, because they don’t use a crock pot – but turn the generator on in evenings in winter. My answer is – sure! Some of my kin would can this soup up in quart canning jars. Since meat needs to be canned with a pressure canner to be safe, there is no reason you can’t cook it for dinner in a pressure cooker to start with.

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Sonoran Sausage Soup ~ Overview of Ingredients

It’s pretty simple.  Sausage. Beans. Potatoes. Greens. Herbs & Spices.

Which Sausage?

Any sausage that you like. Chorizo is spicy and nice. Portuguese linguiça sausage lends meatiness and a bit of spice. Kielbasa woks fine.  I have used breakfast sausage on occasion, but I skip the sagey ones. To be honest, I have even made this winter soup with some hamburger straight out of the freezer and into the bottom of the crock pot.

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The 15 bean blend which includes lentils works well for this dish.

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” are really a bean and they work well too. Note that you are using more liquid than you would for simply cooking beans. This makes your soup a soup instead of a pot of beans.

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. Grandma also the beans when she had no potatoes handy.

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Greens.

In the pioneer days, scurvy was an issue so the winter stew would often include whatever greens were available. 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 tops are available in the winter months if you grow these desert adapted bunching onions.)

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Foraging may be from the freezer. Spinach is a good green to go with sausage.

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 actually several different species of Rumex, and all the young leaves add a nice tart taste to this soup.

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Dry sausage works fine. Try to select herbs and spices that go with the flavors already in your sausage.

Herbs & Spices

Use flavors that mesh well with your sausage. Example, if it’s fennel sausage, add some fennel seed and garlic. If it’s chorizo, consider cumin and smoked paprika.

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
2 teaspoons of an herb that goes with your sausage
1 cup dry beans
8 cups water or broth, use chicken, beef, or even turkey if you have some
ham hock if you have one
1 medium onion, diced fine
3 medium potatoes, diced fine or grated.
8 cups lightly packed greens, cut finely so they don’t string off your spoon
2 teaspoons cumin, smoked paprika, or other herbs to match sausage flavor
salt to taste

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Raw sausage – cut it or crumble it for cooking. Do cook it well before eating.

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, liquid, and a ham hock if you have it.

Simmer this until the beans are done.

Once beans are cooked, and at least ½ hour before serving, add the herbs, and optional salt. Stir in well so the flavor can develop.

Now add the greens, but don’t stir them in. You just put them on the top of the pot so they get steamed and wilty, not overcooked.

Once the greens are wilted, then stir them in. Serve.

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Serve with tortillas. Here they are warmed in the warming side of an old wood stove.

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