Soup Recipes: Warm up with these soups, stews, chowders, and chilis

Winter has arrived in earnest; it's the long, bitter, double-up-on-socks cold of January and February. These are the months for soup, and Stir It Up! has the perfect collection of soup, stew, chowder, and chili recipes.

White bean soup with sage and sausage

Blue Kitchen
You can use sausage, ham, or chicken in white beans with sage soup, or leave the meat out and use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version.

By Terry BoydBlue Kitchen
Serves 3 to 4 as a meal, 6 or more as a first course

1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped, about 1 cup (or yellow onions)
2 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage (or 1-1/2 teaspoon dried)
3 cups unsalted or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine [editor's note: may substitute cooking wine]
Freshly ground black pepper
4 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 pound dried beans – see Kitchen Notes)
5 to 6 ounces kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
Salt (if needed)

1. Heat butter and oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium flame. Sweat shallots and carrots in butter/oil mixture, stirring frequently, until shallots are soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Clear a space in the middle and add garlic and sage. Cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds, stirring.

2. Add broth and wine, then beans, and stir to combine. Season generously with pepper. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat. Transfer 3 cups of soup to a food processor and (carefully – it’s hot) purée. Return puréed soup to pot, add kielbasa and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Depending on how salty your broth and beans are, you may or may not need to add salt. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Kitchen Notes

Canned or dried beans? We use canned beans a lot because they’re just so darned convenient. Canned beans make this a recipe you can throw together on a weeknight. If you prefer to use dried beans, they’ll need a soak. You can soak them overnight, the traditional approach, or use a quick soak method that has them ready to cook in an hour or so. Cooking time can be anywhere from 1 to 2 hours; just judge by the tenderness of the beans. Also note that older dried beans may require more cooking time. Here are both soaking methods, as I described them in a recipe for Senate Bean Soup:

Soaking beans, slow and fast. Whichever method you choose, pick through the beans first to remove any pebbles and shriveled looking beans and then give them a quick rinse.

Slow: Soaking beans overnight is simplicity itself. Just place them in a large pot or bowl and cover with water by at least three inches. Soak them overnight, drain and rinse. They are now ready to cook.

Fast: Place picked over and rinsed beans in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Cover with cold tap water by at least three inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover pot and let beans soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse. They’re now ready to cook.

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