When you know where to look for high-quality specialty ingredients, creating a simple and satisfying dinner around the ingredient with little effort is a snap.
Kroeger & Sons Meats has been a Findlay Market staple since 1972, owned since 2006 by Debbie Knueven Gannaway and her son, Matthew. Debbie and Matthew received six months training from Mike and Mark Kroeger, sons of Paul Kroeger, the founder and master sausage maker, prior to their retirement.
I selected Kroeger’s chicken Andouille sausage to use in a late winter bean soup, which couldn’t be simpler or more delicious. Let me just say right here and now that true, New Orleans (pork) Andouille sausage is a one-of-a-kind ingredient. The first time I had it, it was floating in dark green gumbo and had ingredients I couldn’t identify. I almost didn’t eat it. I am so glad I did, as it set the standard for every soup in my future life. It also taught me the value of great stock. [Full disclosure: I took red meat out of my diet in Jan 2010.]
The only advanced prep is preparing the beans. I chose navy beans as I like their size. Place 1# navy beans (or, the larger great northern) in water to cover, and heat to the boil, reducing heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Turn heat off; allow beans to sit for 2 hours. Drain and set aside.
In a small stockpot, saute 1 large onion, finely chopped in 2 Tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add 2 additional Tbsp olive oil plus 2 peeled, chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery stalks (onion + carrots + celery = the mirepoix); sweat over low heat for 3-4 minutes, and add 1 large minced garlic clove. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Create a space in the center of the pot; add 2 chicken Andouille sausages, thinly sliced. Saute 4-5 minutes. Add beans. Pour in 2 quarts vegetable stock… enough to make the mixture fluid. Add 1 bay leaf. Reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Check the soup every 30 minutes or so, removing from heat when beans are tender.
You’ll know when it’s done, and you’ll be happy you expended the very little effort it takes to create a satisfying and succulent soup.