Back to school..........Morning lesson: "finding the sweet spot"
White Bean and Fennel Sausage Soup
1 pound dried white beans or Great Northern Beans (2 cups)
8 cups water
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves: 1 smashed, 2 chopped
1 large fresh rosemary sprig
11 bay leaf
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped (1cup)
1 large celery stalk, coarsely chopped (3/4 cup)
2 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound Gary Teal’s fennel sausage (bulk, or casing removed)
1/4 cup whipping cream
Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse beans. Add 8 cups water, 1 tbsp. oil, smashed garlic, rosemary and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are just ender.
Season to taste with salt. Cool slightly, cover and chill.
Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid and discard rosemary and bay leaf.
Heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften,. Add chopped garlic and 1 tsp. thyme. Sauté another 2 minutes. Add 2 cups reserved bean liquid, 4 cups chicken broth and beans. Bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender. about 25 minutes. Cool soup 10 minutes.
Sauté fennel sausage over medium high until cooked throughout. Bead up any lumps with back of spoon. Drain on paper towels.
Remove 1 1/2 cups bean mixture from soup. Reserve. Purée remaining soup in blender until smooth. Return puree to pot. Stir n reserved whole bean mixture, remaining 1 1/2 tsp. thyme, fennel sausage and cream. Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold. Cover and keep chilled.
Rewarm soup over medium heat, thinning with more broth if desired. Season with salt and pepper.