Tuscan Bean Stew

Serves 6

1 lb. dry cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
3 Tbsp salt
4 qt. water
1/2 lb. sausage (andouille, italian, chorizo all work well)
2 carrots, peel, cut lengthwise and sliced into 1/2 in long pieces
2 celery stalks, prepped as the carrots
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
4 c. water
1 Tbsp. chicken base
2 bay leaves
1/4 lb. kale leaves chopped coarsely
1 Tbsp oregano chopped
salt and pepper to taste

The night before: dissolve 3 Tbsp salt in 4 qt. water. Rinse beans (pick them over to remove rocks, etc.) and add to water. Leave on counter over night. Brining the beans makes the skins tender and improves the texture immensely.

The next day: Preheat oven to 250F. Heat olive oil in bottom of a large dutch oven. Saute carrots, celery and onion over medium heat for 8 minutes. Add garlic, cook for another 1 minute. Add water, chicken base, bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour. 

Add tomatoes, oregano, kale. Return to oven and cook for 45 minutes.

Cut sausage casings lengthwise and scrape meat out with a knife. Fry in a small frying pan until brown, drain. Remove soup from oven, add sausage, add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into bowls and top with parmesan. Serve with crusty bread.