We've had quite a bit of precipitation this fall, which has occasionally been the kind of rain where the skies remain a deep, dark grey without a speck of sunshine and the windshield wipers can't keep up with the pummeling, despite being on their highest setting -- that driving, pounding rain that forces the yellow leaves to the ground from the trees.
It is, undeniably, soup weather. It makes you want a hot pot of something steamy that you slurp with a big spoon.
Enter white bean soup with spinach, sweet potatoes and turkey sausage. It's quick and simple, but tremendously satisfying for those soup weather moments. The key to getting a deep, flavorful broth is to start with oil in a hot Dutch oven, putting some beautiful color onto the smoked sausage (and creating those dark, yummy bits on the bottom of the pan in the process). This part only takes five minutes and it makes a huge difference, developing a smoky richness that becomes the base of your soup. Butter some warm, crusty bread on the side and dip right in.
White bean soup with spinach, sweet potatoes and turkey sausage
Add the oil to a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage nicely on both sides (the key to getting a nice deep broth and depth of flavor is to get some good color on the sausage and those beautiful brown bits on the bottom of the pan at the beginning). Turn down the heat to medium and add the onions to the pan, cooking 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking another minute until fragrant. Add the sweet potatoes, chicken broth and beans and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the oregano and spinach, cooking until the spinach just wilts. Season with salt and pepper (I was generous with the pepper) to taste and remove from the heat. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the soup right before serving. Great with toasty sliced bread on the side.
Maya Evoy lives in Nikiski and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry may appear in a future column.