White Bean Soup with Kale and Andouille

I saw a nice recipe for this soup in this week’s Oregonian FoodDay (you can find a copy of it here). One of my unmet goals last year was to make something with different color beans. I’d done red beans and rice and pinto beans but hadn’t tackled black beans or white beans. I saw this recipe and figured I’d found my answer for cooking with white beans – great northern beans in this case. There were two optional ingredients that piqued my interest: pomegranate syrup and applewood smoked salt.

I made my shopping list and headed over to Bales Thriftway at Kinnaman and Farmington road after dropping off some items for the AHS Band rummage sale (I left my recycling container there; rats). I found the syrup okay, but needed Stephanie’s (a courtesy clerk at the store)   help to locate the salt. Turns out they had just gotten it in. Herb and Dianne came in after breakfast to have a smell. It was REAL smoky; Herb may make some himself in his smoker. I thought it would be a great addition to the soup

I started the beans soaking in salt water: 3 Tablespoons to 6 quarts water. I had just read about this in the November 2010 Cooks Illustrated. It is supposed to make the skins softer.

After breakfast with the McDonnell’s and a quick walk, I gathered the ingredients for the obligatory photo shoot.

Then I commenced to choppin’. Next time I’ll wait on the Kale; it doesn’t go in until the last 30 minutes of cooking and I could have had things started earlier.

The onions, carrots and celery are sweating it out on the left while I brown the andouille in a skillet

Beans, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, andouille and a pinch of the applewood smoked salt meet the vegetables and cook down for a couple of hours. I had “beans” on the mind more than “soup” and it looked a little thin when I started so I cooked with the lid off hoping to get more of a bean feel to things. Looking back I think this was a mistake; the beans took longer than I expected to soften; a full 3 hours really. And it ended up a bit thick; I added a little more chicken stock to get things back to a more soup-like consistency.
The kale goes in for the last 30 minutes. After that cooks down I add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and pomegranate syrup. You’ve no doubt heard my rant about sugar in beans; I am not a fan. I just do not get baked beans. So, I was a little doubtful about adding both sugar and syrup but the amounts were very small so I figured what the heck.
Carla made the corn bread and dinner is served
I’m rating this 4 stars; definitely a do over. I don’t think the pomegranate syrup is a must. I had to buy a whole pint just to use a teaspoon or two. I bet we find something to do with the rest; pomegranate martinis, anyone?
Sometime this winter I’ve got to make a nice pot of cuban black beans; anyone have a recipe for me to try?

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