This soup is so delicious and so easy to put together that once you gave it a go you will be wondering why you have not tried making it before. It is one of our winter standbys for busy weeknights. I always include beans or lentils at least 2 to 3 times in our weekly meal plan. They are full of good nutrition and ridiculously cheap.

Recently we switched to dry beans and cooked boxed beans because of the concern about BPA leaching from the lining of metal cans. If you find boxed cooked beans, make sure to stock a few. Although they are pricier than the dried variety, they will help you get a dinner ready in about 20 minutes. This is how long it takes to prepare this soup with cooked beans.

Another simple way to make this soup is to load all the ingredients into your slow cooker in the morning and let it turn them slowly into a nutritious and delicious dinner for your family. The soup freezes beautifully so make sure to cook a double batch and freeze some for the future.

 While bean and sausage soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

4-6 oz your favorite smoked sausage

1 cup chopped onion

1  cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ pound dry beans or 2 cans or boxes (15oz each) of cooked beans, drained and rinsed with cold water

8 cups chicken stock or water

½ teaspoon dry thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2-3 bay leafs

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

 Preparation:

1. Heat the olive oil In a Dutch oven.  Add sausage, onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the sausage is browned and the vegetables are tender.

2. Stir in beans, chicken stock or water, herbs and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.

3. If using cooked beans, cover and simmer for 5 minutes after adding them to the pan.

4. If using dry beans, transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or for 6-7 hours on low. You can also cook the soup in the Dutch oven. In this case, let the soup boil gently for 1.5-2 hours after adding dry beans. It is ready when the beans are soft and break easily with a spoon.

4. Enjoy!

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