Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Three-Bean Soup with Smoked Kielbasa and Kale

This simple, downhome bean soup is packed with both nutrition and flavor. We all know beans provide an ample amount of vitamins and fiber, and they’re a cinch to cook from scratch—it takes a bit of time but little effort.  

For this recipe, I used cranberry beans (because they’re pretty), tongues of fire beans (because I like the name), and good ol’ black beans (because they’re good ol’ black beans). You can use any dry beans you like—just be sure they have similar cooking times so that their finished textures will be the same too (not a mixture of mushy and crunchy).

Cranberry, Black, and Tongues of Fire Beans
Even if you go for the visual appeal of pink-and-white-striped cranberry beans, be aware that the colors will fade and blend during cooking anyway—especially when paired with black beans, which tend to turn any broth murky brown.

To add to the dish’s nutritional value and earthy flavor, I added a healthy dose of green kale. Smoky kielbasa also kicks up the flavor (not so much the nutritional value), but you can make this soup vegetarian by omitting the sausage and substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Either way, it’s a tasty, satisfying dinner you can feel good about.

Note: Normally, I wouldn't add fresh herbs until toward the end of cooking, but I think thyme and beans go so well together that I wanted the herbal flavor to penetrate the veggies and broth start to finish. But if you're a purist, don't add the thyme until you add the kielbasa.

Serves 6

  • 2/3 cup dry black beans
  • 2/3 cup dry cranberry beans
  • 2/3 cup dry tongues of fire beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb smoked kielbasa, thinly sliced
  • 3 packed cups chopped green kale
  • toasted breadsticks, for serving (optional)
Smoked Kielbasa
Sliced Kielbasa
  1. Sort and rinse all beans. Place them in a large pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Soak overnight.
  2. Transfer the beans to a colander and drain. Rinse thoroughly under cold water and drain again.
Bean Mixture
Beans Beginning to Soak
Drained Beans
  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the drained beans and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  3. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly 1-1/2 hours. (Set the pot lid slightly ajar if the soup continues to boil when covered.)
Onion Mixture 
Beans and Thyme Added
  1. Add the kielbasa and continue simmering, 15 minutes, until the beans are tender.
  2. Add the kale and cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes. Taste for seasoning before serving. 
Kielbasa Added 
Kale Added 
Cooked Soup

To serve, divide the soup among 6 bowls and serve crusty breadsticks alongside, if desired.

Three-Bean Soup with Smoked Kielbasa and Kale

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