Spanish-Style Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sausage Stew

I have a confession: I used to be kind of snooty about slow-cookers. My dad never used one, I don’t think we even had one in the house when I was a kid. I just always thought overcooked, mushy, drab-colored things came out of slow-cookers.

Phew. I’m so glad I got that off my chest.

I’m happy to report that my opinion has changed over the past few years. Becoming a busy mom/student has made me appreciate the comfort and reliability of slow-cookers — especially during the fall and winter months. It’s so nice to come home to something warm after a long, cold day.

This recipe is so easy, so comforting, and so delicious. It’s a jazzed up version of a recipe I saw in Real Simple a few years ago. The original recipe was pretty bland, so I put my little thumbprint on it and made it mine by adding some exotic, floral, distinctly Spanish saffron (think paella) and a few other things. My kids love this, and it must be served with some toasty bread rubbed with garlic.

Ps: the leftovers are fantastic.

Here’s how I made it:

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Spanish-Style Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sausage Stew

Serves 6-8

Cook time: 8 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried white beans (such as great northern or navy)
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage or spanish-style chorizo (NOT Mexican chorizo!), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (one big carton)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes — fire-roasted if you can find them
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of saffron–about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cups fresh spinach (a couple big handfuls)
  • chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)
  • bread, for serving

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To Prepare:

In a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, sausage, broth, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, saffron, wine and water.

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Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until beans are tender.

Just before serving, stir in the spinach and chopped fresh parsley.

Serve with bread, and enjoy!

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Spanish-Style Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sausage Stew

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Spanish-Style Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sausage Stew

Serves 6-8

Cook time: 8 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried white beans (such as great northern or navy)
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage or spanish-style chorizo (NOT Mexican chorizo!), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (one big carton)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes — fire-roasted if you can find them
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of saffron–about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cups fresh spinach (a couple big handfuls)
  • chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)
  • bread, for serving

To Prepare:

In a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, sausage, broth, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, saffron, wine and water.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until beans are tender.

Just before serving, stir in the spinach and chopped fresh parsley.

Serve with bread, and enjoy!

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Corn and Potato Chowder

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am not a vegetarian. I love meat. But I also love moderation. I am perfectly happy going meat-free a couple times a week, and I’ve made it a normal part of my family’s routine. Going meat-free isn’t just good for our health, it’s good for our budgets and our planet.

I started seeing “meatless Monday” popping up on various social media sites and I think I read about it in a few magazines, but I had no idea what a big deal it really is; it’s an actual movement. “Meatless Monday began in 2003, launched in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In May, 2009, Ghent, Belgium, became the first non-U.S. city to go meatless. Shortly thereafter, Paul McCartney introduced the U.K. to Meat-Free Mondays.” Check out the website for more info, and make it a part of your weekly routine if you haven’t already.

This soup is a great way to start. I modeled it after my grandma’s recipe, (She actually makes tuna chowder, which I love, and this is really that recipe minus the tuna). She usually makes it with evaporated milk, and you can absolutely substitute the half and half for evaporated milk–it is so old-fashioned; I love it. I just always have half and half for my coffee, so I throw it into recipes.

It sounds funny, but the “secret” ingredient really is the celery. Celery seems so insignificant, but it makes all the difference in chowders. My French ancestors were really on to something with their mirepoix, and I’m happy to carry on the tradition. This is a great base for any kind of chowder. Try tuna, clam, chicken… and of course, feel free to start the recipe by crisping some bacon as long as it’s not meatless Monday.

Finally, I am a big believer in dunking things in soup, so I serve it with something toasty, and usually cheesy… I can’t help myself.

Here’s how I made the soup, and the cheesy dunkers:

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Corn and Potato Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 cups half and half or evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (I used 5 medium sized potatoes)–peeled and diced
  • 3 cups corn kernels (I used frozen, but in the summer time you must use fresh corn–so good!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion–chopped
  • 1 carrot–peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery–diced
  • 1 garlic clove–peeled and gently crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • Chives or parsley to garnish (optional)

To Prepare:

In a large pot melt the butter, and add diced onions, carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaf with a big pinch of salt–about a teaspoon, a few grinds of black pepper, and a teensy pinch of cayenne, if using. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Add flour and stir to combine, cook for about a minute.

Add wine and stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and add potatoes. Cook for about twenty minutes until potatoes are just tender. Add corn and half and half, bring back to a very gentle simmer until heated through. Don’t boil! Taste and adjust seasoning. The salt you add will depend on your stock, so it is very hard for me to give an exact measurement. Just add what tastes good!

Garnish with chives or parsley and enjoy!

*One of the benefits of evaporated milk is that it can withstand boiling, so if you use it you don’t have to be quite as concerned about curdling as if you use half and half.

If you want to serve it with a dipper, here’s how I made my most recent version:

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Parmesan Toasts

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf of italian or french bread
  • 1/2 stick soft butter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

To prepare:

Smear bread evenly with butter, sprinkle evenly with cheese, place under broiler and watch carefully until the cheese gets brown. Don’t walk away! This happens fast! Slice and serve alongside the soup!