Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kick-off to October Unprocessed: White Bean Soup with Kale and Sausage

Canned food is not real food.  At least that's what my Brazilian husband tells me.  Canned beans are not really beans, but something to to be prodded with a fork and stared at.  Then dump down the drain.  I used to laugh at him, but you know what?  Now I pretty much agree.

Have you tasted fresh beans compared to canned beans?  WOW.  So much difference.  And the most interesting part?  Canned beans don't go bad for a long time.  Really.  You can leave them in the fridge for a week and a half and they still smell normal.  That can't be natural.  Too many preservatives, I suppose.  So we are 99% of the time can free.

Except for Campbell's.  Don't take away my Campbell's.

Monday starts the month of October, and with that means in our house (and many houses around the country -- maybe even world) October Unprocessed is about to start, as well.  As I shared last year at this time:

What is this, exactly?  Well, according to the mastermind behind it, Andrew Wilder, it is a push to get people to stop and think about what they putting in their bodies.  For the month of October, over 1,800 of us (yes, you read that correctly) have decided to put away packaged goods and go for it. 

Of course, each person might consider something processed that another does not, so here is the working definition for unprocessed food that we are using for this challenge (taken from Andrew's blog, Eating Rules!).

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients.  It doesn’t mean you actually have to make it yourself, it just means that for it to be considered “unprocessed” that you could, in theory, do so.

What does that mean for us?  Well, Ok, you can take away my Campbell's.  And the Skippy.  Condiments will be shelved for the month and I will be baking with raw sugar and unbleached flour.  But really, it isn't that hard.  See this bowl of soup?  Beans, in the pressure cooker, with some garlic and fresh chicken stock (not Knorr, which I usually use).  Add some kale, grill some fresh chicken sausage from Trader Joe's (no preservatives, just meat), and top with some Parmesan, also from TJ's (ingredients: milk, live bacteria, salt).  

Easy.  Fresh.  Unprocessed.

Last year at this time I was terrified.  TERRIFIED.  How on earth was going to survive a month without processed foods?!  But I did.  And I thrived.  I learned a lot, tried new things, and pretty much started a new way of eating year round, not just in October.  

Not to mention, I lost some pudge around my belly.  That was a completely unexpected result, but one that I will take gladly!

I have looked through my recipes from this year and have some great tasting and easy to make recipes that fit this bill, so I am going to be making a menu plan for each week for any of you brave enough to try October Unprocessed.  The first weekly plan will be up tomorrow, so check back to prepare for the week. WE CAN DO IT, Friends!  

Are you brave enough to join me?  Come on, let's do it!

(To read through my experience last year, click HERE.)

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food, September 2012
YIELD: 8 servings       PREP TIME:  15 minutes        TOTAL TIME:  1 hour 20 minutes

  • 1 pound dried white beans
  • 4 cups fresh chicken broth, either from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, or make your own
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • 1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped, ribs removed
  • Vegetable oil, for grill
  • 1 pound chicken sausage, from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods (or a butcher)
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving  (remember -- FRESH.  Nothing weird on the ingredients list!)


  1. In a 6-quart pressure cooker, cover beans by 2 inches water, bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Let soak 30 minutes. Drain beans and return to pressure cooker. Add broth and garlic; season with salt. Secure lid. Bring to high pressure over medium-high heat; reduce heat and cook until beans are tender, 20 to 22 minutes (adjust heat to maintain pressure). Remove from heat, vent pressure, and remove lid. Stir in kale.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a grill or grill pan to high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Grill sausages until browned, about 12 minutes; let rest 5 minutes, then slice. Serve soup topped with sausages and Parmesan.

Cook's Note

To get the basics on pressure cookers, click here.

COST: $6.93    COST PER SERVING (8): $0.87


  1. oh boy!! I really want to join with you in October Unprocessed, but I don't know if I can do it. I have been wanting to do something similar for awhile now, so maybe this is the encouragement I need.

    1. Try it for a week first and see if you can do it! Seriously, the recipes I am sharing this week make it easy. I know you can do it!!!

  2. I had never heard of Andrew Wilder until reading your post & I'm so glad I found it. Lots of great things can be learned from unprocessed foods including the cost savings! A great meal for under $1 per person is awesome. I am about to begin our 4th annual Soup Month on Oct. 1st and I hope you can stop by to visit. Also looking forward to your unprocessed recipes this month! Mary ~

    1. Love your soup month! Yes, the cost savings is amazing! Most of the food we eat at home is unprocessed for that reason -- but it was a month like this a few years ago that brought us to that point!

  3. This is awesome! I would love to try it, but unfortunately, I do not cook for myself. LOL.

    BUT, if I lived by myself, I would so try this. :D I think it`s an awesome idea.

    1. Well, the first October you are cooking for yourself I will expect to see your name signed up :)

  4. Any suggestions on how to cook the beans without a pressure cooker? My mom used to have one but she moved out and now I am lacking, with no money to buy a new one (fresh out of college)!

    1. To make beans I know you can also use a crockpot. I would do it like above (with fresh chicken stock) and just follow the recipe for beans in the crockpot (google should have oodles of sites that tell you how) and then add the kale and sausage later, just like in this recipe. I hope it works!


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