Lekker: Andouille & Kale White Bean Stew

Thank god for this recipe. Seriously, I've been absent for awhile solely because I've just had one dud recipe after another. I wouldn't share anything here I'm not TOTALLY crazy about and can't wait to make again and lately it's all just been bleh, bleh, blah. Meat & Potato Pies that were good, but just too much damn work (3+ hours for six tiny little pies? GTFO); Chocolatey Peanut Butter Banana Bread (which was less like bread and more like cake and boring in either case); Roasted Garlic, Leek & Pumpkin Soup that sounds good in theory but turned out to be way too garlicky and way too spicy (will be tinkering with that recipe though) and a number of other nonsense failures.I needed a win.

Enter this deliciousness!

I'm sort of stretching this by calling it a "stew" because there is SOME broth, but it's so hearty and filling I don't think it deserves the "soup" classification. For most people, I think, "soup" is something that requires a Part 2 of the meal--a salad, or a sandwich, etc--to make it a full meal. Yesterday I had only a big bowl of French onion soup for lunch and I was a royal cranky bitch for the rest of the afternoon because I was starving. This is chock full of protein with just the right amount of veggies and delicious, salty, flavourful broth. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't like this--except my Bonus Dad, who does not like kale, and my Bonus Mom, who does not eat sausage. Sigh. Sorry guys--can't please everyone, all the time! :-}

This takes about 35-40 minutes to prepare from start to finish. Serve with a thick wedge of garlic bread and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top and you'll want nothing more out of life.

 I took a picture of it still in the pot because I knew that if I got it into a bowl, I would be wanting to get it into my mouth much more than wanting to take some snaps--and I was right.

Andouille & Kale White Bean Stew
makes about 6 servings

What You Need
6 ounces Andouille sausage (I used one link of this one by Johnsonville)
2 medium shallots (If you don't know, shallots are like onions but stronger and more pungent in taste; they have the same reddish papery skin but are smaller and oblong instead of round, and purple and white in color instead of white or yellow; typically you can find them next to the garlic in your shop)
2 small or 1 large celery rib
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 cloves garlic
1 dash cinnamon (sounds weird, I know, but restrain yourself to JUST ONE DASH and it's amaaazing)

3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup of diced tomatoes, drained of their juice (I found this to be just about half a can)
2 15-ounce cans of white beans, rinsed (I used Great Northern beans, but cannellini or "small white beans" work well here too)
4 cups of chicken broth (I used low sodium since the sausage has plenty)
1 bag (16 ounces) kale (I buy the triple-washed pre-chopped version because I am lazy)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1-2 tablespoons of butter or your preferred oil for frying
~1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (you can add more to taste, but start with that)

Shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping

What You Do
1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter or oil. Slice up the sausage into bite sized pieces by slicing it lengthwise first, and then into little half-moons. Fry that over medium heat until nicely browned.

2. While that's cooking, dice up your celery, carrots and shallots. Since I like consistency, I try to aim for a size that is close to the size of the beans for the carrots and celery, and a smaller dice for the shallots. When the sausage is done, scoop it out to drain on a paper towel and, in the same fat, fry up your veggies for about 5-6 minutes until they're golden. Mince your garlic and toss that in with the dash of cinnamon, frying for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant.

3. Now add the wine. Again, if you're anything like me (that is, an inexcusable lush), that just means tipping your wine glass over until it looks like 3/4 of a cup. Ta dah! A miraculous excuse for a refill. The thing with cooking with wine (in the actual food anyway) is that you want to cook it down quite a bit; that raw wine taste in food is just nasty, and happens when you add wine at the same time as other liquids. So you'll want to cook this for about...meh, maybe 3-4 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.

4. Throw in everything else! The beans, sausage, tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, and kale. If your kale is like what I had, even though it comes prewashed and pre-cut there are still some stemmy bits in there. Kale stems are tough and bitter (like some of my exes) and I don't particularly care for them (no comment), so I tear off the stems while I'm tossing it into the pot. Bring it to a good boil and then let that all simmer nicely for about 10 minutes.Sprinkle in your dried spices (adjust salt & pepper to taste at this stage if you like) and simmer another 10-15 minutes or so, or until everything is tender and your house smells droolworthy.

5. Remove from heat, stir in the teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and serve with Parmesan cheese on top with a thick hunk of garlic bread. TO. DIE. FOR.
Posted on October 23, 2013 .