Friday, April 3, 2009

Italian Pinto Bean Soup

This dish needs a fancier name because it was really good. I mean, REALLY good! Italian Pinto Bean Soup just doesn't do it justice. At the very least I think I would call it "Italian Sausage and Bean Soup". The sausage gave it a really yummy flavor and added some "oomph" to the soup. The entire family loved it and I found myself wishing that I'd doubled the recipe. It is another one from Crystal at the Family Homestead.

Italian Pinto Bean Soup

4 cups dry pinto beans (or about 3-4 cans of prepared beans from the store)
water for soaking (if you start with dry beans)
8 cups water for cooking
1 T salt
1/2 to 1 pound sausage (leave out for a vegetarian meal. I used bratwurst from the freezer and just squeezed the sausage out of their little bratwurst casings)
olive oil (if not using sausage)
1 small or medium onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic (I used 1 tsp garlic powder instead - I need to buy a new garlic press!)
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
1 T Italian seasoning
1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

If you start with dry beans:

The night before, put the beans in a large pot and cover well with water. Let them soak overnight. In the morning, drain the water that they soaked in and then add the 8 cups of fresh water you will cook them in. Add salt to the beans and cook until soft. Once the beans are cooked you can drain the water, cool and then freeze them for later use, or set them aside still in the water to make the soup that same day.

If you start with canned beans:

Cook sausage along with onion, garlic, and optional green pepper. If you are not using sausage, cook the onion, garlic and green pepper in a bit of olive oil until soft. Then add the sausage/veggie mixture to the cooked beans in a soup pot. Add the remaining ingredients and heat until the cheese is melted and the flavors are blended. In individual bowls, garnish with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese on top.

Verdict: Absolutely delicious! A couple of the children picked out the green peppers, but that was it. It had my husband and I craving more. Will definitely make again!

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