Another great recipe from the Best of Bridge series.  I adjusted things only slightly – I didn’t use potatoes for example, I thought it was thick enough, and I will probably never use pork hocks instead of leftover ham.  I also kept it mild for the girls, but spicy sausage (and/or several shakes of Tabasco to my own bowl) will always be my first choice – enjoy!

Best of Bridge Bean Soup

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. hot Italian sausage (I used 5 good-sized mild)

2 large onions, diced

4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced

4 celery stalks, diced

6 carrots, peeled and diced

1 EACH, red, yellow and orange pepper, diced

2 to 3 c. cubed cooked ham

1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 T. dried)

2 cans (19 oz/540 mL) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (28 oz/798 mL) diced tomatoes

1 can (14 oz/398 mL) tomato sauce

1 t. EACH freshly ground pepper AND Worcestershire sauce

1 t. + Tabasco, or your favorite hot sauce (optional to the pot or your own bowl)

1 L chicken broth (or water)

Depending on the kind of Italian sausage, you need to decide how you’d like to cook it.  Either boil it for several minutes to remove the fat and then dice it up once it’s cool enough OR, if you found lean sausage then dice it up raw (mine was still partially frozen so this was easy) and heat a bit of oil in your large soup pot to begin cooking it.

Once the sausage is about half cooked, add in the onion, garlic, celery, carrots and peppers and saute for several minutes more until there’s no pink left in the sausage – remember that stuck browned bits are great! and they will loosen up and add to the flavor as the soup simmers.  If the sausage has been boiled, just cook the vegetables for a few minutes before adding all of the remaining ingredients.

Add in all of the remaining ingredients – your pot will be full! – and then top it off with the broth, I used the full liter – and bring it all to a boil.  Cover, leaving the lid open a bit and simmer for about 3 hours, stirring regularly.  Taste for seasonings – I didn’t add in any salt at all – and adjust as needed.  We enjoyed ours straight away with a fresh loaf of bread, and still had more than enough for a good-sized freezer meal.

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