Red beans and rice soup for Mardi Gras

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5D

Red beans and rice is one of the signature dishes of New Orleans, which explains why Louis Armstrong, perhaps the city's best-known ambassador, signed his letters, "Red beans and ricely yours …"

With Mardi Gras upon us Tuesday, I wanted to turn this classic dish into a hearty (and healthy) soup.

All it took to transform the standard red beans and rice into soup was the addition of celery, onion and green bell peppers (often called the "the Holy Trinity" of New Orleans cuisine), a little Creole seasoning, some chicken stock and several ounces of andouille sausage.

Brought to Louisiana in the mid-1700s by French settlers, andouille is a coarsely ground pork sausage that's been spiced and smoked.

This dish is a great final resting place for your leftover rice, but if you don't have any kicking around, it's simple to make a fresh batch. Just boil up the rice as if it were pasta. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add rice and boil for about 45 minutes (brown rice takes longer than white to cook), then drain it. And since cooked rice freezes well, consider making extra to have for other meals.

And the kidney beans (the red beans for which the dish is named) are little marvels. They're rich in protein and a terrific source of fiber. In combination with the rice, they will fill you up. Which is why I think of this recipe as a one-dish dinner. Just partner it with a green salad and you're good to go.

By the way, this soup is even better a few days later, and it freezes well.

Mardi Gras red beans and rice soup with andouille sausage

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil

9 ounces (3 links) turkey or chicken andouille sausage, diced into 1/2-inch chunks

2 cups medium chopped yellow onion (about 1 large)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

Two 15 1/2-ounce cans low- sodium red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups chopped celery (about 4 medium stalks)

1 1/2 cups chopped green or red bell pepper (about 1 large)

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (1/2 cup uncooked produces 1 1/2 cups cooked)

INSTRUCTIIONS

In a large saucepan over medium, heat the oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl.

Add the onion to the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and Creole seasoning and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

While the onion and garlic are cooking, mash 1 cup of the kidney beans with a potato masher or fork, then add them to the saucepan. Add the celery, pepper, remaining whole beans, chicken broth and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the reserved sausage and the cooked rice. Cook until heated through. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

Per serving: 220 calories; 50 calories from fat (23 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 12 g protein; 740 mg sodium.

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Read more articles by Sara Moulton



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