Slow-Cooker 15-Bean Soup with Chicken Sausage and Spinach
Why This Recipe Works
With 15-bean soup mix as our inspiration, we set out to make an easy bean soup with meaty undertones, a bright flavor, and an appealingly chunky texture. Our first step was to ditch the flavoring packets that come with these soup mixes because their dried seasonings and bits of vegetables offered up zero flavor and a lot of sodium. Instead, a combination of onion, garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes provided a nice balance of oniony aromatics and herbs, and fresh white mushrooms (for mild mushroom flavor) rounded out the flavor of this simple soup. We kept sodium levels down by using water along with savory broth. For heartiness we added precooked chicken sausage, which held up during the long cooking time and has fewer calories and fat than pork sausage. We stirred in spinach at the end of cooking and allowed it to wilt slightly, adding a fresh, bright element to the soup.