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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bean and Sausage Stew

Many years ago now (which makes me whimper as it makes me feel old thinking about it as many years ago), I worked in a nonprofit that housed a WIC program.  The Women, Infants and Children's (WIC) Program are a state and federally funded program that gives nutritional advice, support, and vouchers to pregnant women and their families.  I got to work with WIC quite often, which was always a treat.  The women who ran that program were so knowledgeable and caring.  To this day, I still tell people about WIC and encourage them to apply if they think they might qualify.

One of the perks of working with WIC was the information and recipes I was always privy to.  I have a cookbook from those years from WIC, called The Bean Cookbook, put out by the Northharvest Bean Growers Association, chock full of bean recipes.  This is one of them.

Bean and Sausage Stew

1/2 lb Polish or German sausage, or low-fat turkey sausage
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup sliced celery
2 cups sliced, peeled carrots
1 can (15 1/2-oz) great northern beans with liquid
1 can (15 1/3-oz) red beans with liquid
2 cups water
1 bay leaf

1.  Slice sausage into 1/4-inch thick rounds and fry until brown.

2.  Add onion to sausage and brown.  Drain off grease.

3.  In a large pan, combine sausage and onions with rest of ingredients.

4.  Cover and simmer, 45-60 minutes.

The Verdict:  Delicious!

I bought all the ingredients to make this recipe but didn't really read it until the day I planned to make it.  Then I panicked: seriously, that's what's in this stew?  Shouldn't there be something else, or at least some spices?  It was my last-minute decision to add a bay leaf, but in all, I resisted to change it.  If it was bland, it was bland. 

Surprisingly, this recipe is fantastic.  I used a mild Italian chicken sausage which lent a lot of flavor.  And I under-estimated the power of celery.  Together, these simple ingredient come together to create a rich broth and a hearty taste.  I served it over brown rice. 

Don't forget not to rinse or drain your beans.  The bean liquid gives the dish taste and substance.  Which also reminds me, this is one of those stews that leftovers end up tasting even better than the first day.  As someone who rarely likes leftovers, this is always a treat.  The whole family enjoyed it: day one and day two.


  1. We made this two nights ago and everyone really liked it. I had it tonight for dinner, and the leftovers are even better - like you said!