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In a heavy nonreactive 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven combine drained and rinsed beans, 8 cups stock, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 to 45 minutes, until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Add more stock, if necessary; liquid should fully cover beans for beans to move easily during cooking. Cooking time for beans varies from batch to batch.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet heat the 3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Cook onion in hot oil until translucent, stopping before onions brown. Add celery, carrots, and garlic; sprinkle with a pinch of salt and dried thyme. Stir well. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes; season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes longer. Add to simmering beans in Dutch oven. Rinse and wipe out skillet; set aside.
In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water cook the kale for 5 minutes. Drain; set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze water from kale, then coarsely chop.
In same 12-inch skillet cook sausage in 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat about 3 minutes, until well browned on each side.
When beans are tender, add kale and sausage to beans and vegetables in Dutch oven. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. (Stew improves in flavor when allowed to rest for 30 minutes or longer before serving. The stew can be made and chilled up to 2 days, then reheated to serve.)