This hard-to-screw-up soup recipe

Anyone who knows me well knows I only really like to cook breakfast. Beyond that, I tend to regard cooking as necessary, often frustrating drudgery that does not come naturally. I’ll do it, but I won’t be good at it.

I was saved from continuing my single-lady dinner regimen of takeout, assorted combinations of cheese and carbs (e.g., quesadillas, grilled cheese), spaghetti Bolognese (make it once; eat it three nights in a row), chicken pot pies, and frozen Trader Joe’s delicacies by meeting, and later marrying, a lovely man who loves to cook. But since he truly is a lovely man, I need to make sure he’s not ALWAYS the one to have to cook.

That’s why, when I stumble upon a recipe that makes it easy for me to make a delicious dinner, it’s worth celebrating. It so happens I found just such a recipe last night.

What’s glorious about this particular recipe?

It’s way flexible. I didn’t have several of the ingredients, but the recipe creator, a marvelously reassuring woman named Diana Rattray, told me that was okay. Substitutions are encouraged. You can even make it vegetarian. Which means…

You probably have enough stuff in your fridge and pantry to make some version of it. We pretty much always have canned beans, fresh garlic, onions, dried basil, and “Better than Bouillon,” and that’s the baseline here. Given the “use what you want” guidance (check out the source link below), I forged ahead confidently despite my lack of celery, bell peppers, or fresh parsley. I used garbanzos, pintos, great northern beans, smoked sausage, dried parsley, and a ton of carrots.

Everyone liked it. My husband said it was delicious, though he did exercise the option of adding hot sauce. My 11-year-old stepson liked it as much as he likes anything we prepare for him. Which is to say, though he didn’t eat with the enthusiasm he reserves for things like pizza, tomato basil soup, and tacos, he did eat without complaint.

It takes zero skill or intuition. Well, you do need to be able to cut some vegetables without cutting yourself, which is sometimes a skill I lack. You should see how my husband watches me sometimes, gently interjecting, “Honey, please don’t cut yourself today.” But beyond that, the recipe is hard to screw up.

So without further ado…


Quick and Easy Bean Soup with Sausage

Source: Diana Rattray, The SpruceEats


  • 1 medium onion

  • 2 carrots (small)

  • 1 red bell pepper (or yellow, orange, or green)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or part butter)

  • 1/2 cup celery (diced)

  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)

  • 12 ounces smoked sausage (e.g., kielbasa, andouille, or chicken sausage)

  • 1/2 cup baby lima beans (frozen)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 1 (15-ounce) can great northern beans (drained and rinsed)

  • 1 (15-ounce) can navy beans (drained and rinsed)

  • 1 (15-ounce) can small red beans (drained and rinsed)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)

  • Optional: Seasoned croutons

Steps to Make It

  1. Peel the onion and chop it coarsely.

  2. Peel and dice the carrots.

  3. Slice the bell pepper in half lengthwise; remove the seeds and ribs. Cut into 1/4-inch dice.

  4. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes.

  5. Add the carrots, bell pepper, celery, minced garlic, and sausage; cook for 2 more minutes. If sausage is fatty, drain off excess fat.

  6. Add the lima beans, salt, pepper, basil, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

  7. Add drained and rinsed beans; simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes longer.

  8. Stir in the chopped parsley and spoon into serving dishes. If desired, top servings with seasoned croutons.

  9. Serve with cornbread or crusty yeast bread or rolls.


The soup can also be cooked in the crock pot. If you want to go out for a while to enjoy the day, go ahead and combine the sauteed veggies, sausage, and the remaining ingredients in the slow cooker. Set it on low and let it simmer for about 4 to 6 hours, or until the vegetables are tender. You'll come home to a comforting hot bean soup.