I'm still here....

I just wanted to let you all know that I haven't completely let my blog go by the wayside. I was home from Ohio for just over a week when I had to make the long drive back because my Mom is having surgery. I am not sure how long I will be gone while I help during her recovery, but please know I will be back to blogging with tons of great recipes as soon as I can!

Sausage and White Bean Soup

I know, I know, I know....you all missed me terribly and have been completely lost in your kitchens without me.  It was wrong of me to leave you alone during such an important culinary time of year, but I was "home" in Ohio once again with family and loved every minute away.  As I've stated before, being far from family is so heartbreaking but it sure does make getting together even more special.  As we began our long 15 hour drive home on Friday night, we all had tears in our eyes and I especially had a hard time properly vocalizing anything for the first bit of the trip.  

My Christmas vacation was packed with memories but my favorites are the hours of Rock Band 2 with my kids, sledding in warm Ohio temperatures, and my Mom's Fuji apples dipped in homemade caramel, dark chocolate and pecans.  Why, oh why must tomorrow morning come and end all the fun???
In honor of the miserable day tomorrow will be, I give you this soup.  I know you will be feeling sad, lonely and grouchy having to return to the real world so I promise this soup will bring some well needed warmth, comfort and satisfaction to your soul.  Don't forget the hot crusty bread or I can't guarantee those results.....

Sausage and White Bean Soup

1 pound dried navy beans (about 2 1/2 C)
1 Tb olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage
2 C chopped onions
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
8 C chicken stock
3 C water
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1.  Soak beans in cold water overnight.  Drain beans and rinse well.
2.  In large dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add sausage and saute until browned.  Remove from pan and reserve.  Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for one minute.
3.  Add sausage back to pan.  Stir in beans, bay leaves and thyme.  Add stock, water, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook partially covered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Beans should be tender and falling apart when finished.
4.  Using a potato masher, gently mash about half the beans against the bottom of the pan.  Continue to simmer the soup for 30 minutes, uncovered until the soup reduces to a thicker consistency.  Serve hot with crusty bread for dipping.
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