Soup for Sal (Heart healthy Ribollita with white beans and chicken sausage)

My best friend for over 30 years Toni lives in Alabama.  We see each other whenever we can.  We pretty much grew up together as you can imagine and it helped that she lived about 6 blocks from me. Her daddy is a big hearted Italian man that sometimes scared the you know what out of us, and sometimes made us cry at how sweet he was.  He famously came and picked me up across town very late one New Year's Eve because I lost the group, and my daddy would have killed me for staying out after curfew. 

Big Sal as we call him recently had a heart attack and Toni was feeling hopeless so far away to help. He has recovered nicely, but he needs to make some changes in his diet.  Toni's mom is the kind of cook like my mom is, a stressed out working mom who isn't into making gourmet meals.  They grew up like us on Rice a Roni and margarine, but had the occasional awesome homemade dish.  Her mom's was ratatouille.  When Big Sal had his heart attack, Toni asked me if there was healthy grocery and food delivery in New Orleans and I said, "Yeah, me!"

I went to Costco and got them some frozen Salmon, Avocado Oil and tupperware.  Then I decided to make him some hearty, yet heart healthy soup for lunch for his first week back at work.  I wanted to ease him into healthy eating and soup seemed to be the best way.  When I dropped it off, he asked if is was gluten free.  I told him I didn't know.  It probably is.  In any event, they had some for dinner the night I dropped it off and they loved it.  Like raved!  Mission accomplished!

I only had a little bite for tasting purposes, but I concur it was great!  Try this, it is a healthy way to start the new year off!  And good for your heart!  Full recipe after the montage.

Doesn't that look great!
The cast.  I had a lot of this just laying around!
Lots of veggies!  Leeks were in the original but they were out of them at the Rouses.  I subbed shallot and green onions.

Looks like German Night at My Shitty Kitchen!
Cook off your sausage and get some color.  
Add your veggies.  What a pretty party.

Add your spinach and cabbage.  They wondered if the spinach was kale.  Wish I would have done that now!

The creole cream style beans are already kind of mashed like you need so it saves you a step.  I used Blue Runner.  You really can buy everything on Amazon!
Mix in the beans, tomatoes and water and broth.
Let it cook for awhile to combine and create flavor.
Parcel it out if you please for lunch of serve with a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese and some crusty whole wheat bread if you are so inclined.

Ribollita Soup (Adapted heavily from Eating Well)

1 package Chicken sausage, sliced (I used Al Fresco Italian style)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, (or creole cream style if you can find them!)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 head green onions, sliced, white and light green parts only
4 cloves minced garlic
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
2 diced carrots
2 diced celery stalks
1 diced zucchini
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
3 cups baby spinach
¼ head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 diced russet potato
3 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
2 cups water
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
Crushed red pepper to taste

Using a potato masher, mash half the beans into a paste (add a bit of broth, if desired, to make mashing the beans easier). Set the beans aside.  (If you use the creole cream style you can skip this step) Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until browning, about 7 minutes.   Add onion through zucchini and cook, stirring, until translucent and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not brown. Season with ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil; cook, stirring, until nearly tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with ⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper. When the carrots and celery are nearly tender, stir in spinach and cabbage. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 4 to 6 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, water, the diced tomatoes and juice, the bean puree and whole beans and thyme. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season crushed red pepper and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, until all the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes (Or longer if you have time, the longer the better).

Happy Cooking!


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