Watch how to make a hearty fall bean and sausage soup (video)

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Ingredients
1 ½ cup dried great northern bean - soaked overnight (or 1 hour in hot water), then rinsed
1 small butternut squash (about 2 cups) - peeled, deseeded, cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 fennel bulb - cored, cut into ½ inch pieces (use 1 cup celery as substitute)
1 bunch kale or spinach - remove tough stems, tear into large pieces
4 roma or small tomato - cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ cups kielbasa or Italian sausage - cut into ⅓ inch cubes
1 large carrot - peeled, cut into ¾ inch cubes
½ onion - finely chopped
5 garlic cloves - peeled, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3-inch piece fresh sprig rosemary
32 ounces chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Plus salt and pepper to taste
Preparation
Beans
Be sure to sift through beans thoroughly and remove any dirt or rocks. If you decide to soak beans overnight, place into large container and cover with at least 3 inches of water above beans. Before use remove any shriveled beans floating on top then drain and rise. If soaking in hot water, use a large heat safe container and cover with 2 inches of boiling water, allow to soak for 1 hour, and again remove any shriveled beans floating on top, drain and rise.
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Slow Cooker
Combine all dry ingredients except kale, salt and pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker. Mix everything thoroughly, coating all ingredients in olive oil, salt and pepper, and let stand for 10 minutes. Doing so evenly distributes everything and allows the salt to begin pulling water from the vegetables, allowing the flavors to meld and develop. Add chicken stock and enough water to add another 3 to 4 inches of liquid over all the ingredients.
Turn the heat on high and allow to cook for 4 hours. When you have 10 minutes remaining, add in kale, be sure to mix into the pot with a spoon. When the 4 hours have been completed, add more salt and pepper to taste as desired.
Fish out the stems from thyme and rosemary when serving.
Notes for the home cook
Different slow cookers are gaged at different temperatures. Checking in on whatever you're cooking after 2.5 hours is a good place to determine how much more time you actually might need based on the doneness of your ingredients.
Cook with your soul! Some people like heartier soups with less liquid, more meat and vegetables that have a thick texture. Others like it loose, where you can sip on the broth and have veggies floating freely. Adjust liquid whether it be water or stock to your own liking!
Grilled bread is always a great combination to any soups. Slice a country loaf into thick 1.5 inch pieces, drizzle w/ olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill until toasted. Don’t have a grill or grill pan? A non-stick pan will do just fine! Use the bread to soak up the broth from soup and enjoy :)
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