Slow Cooker Greens and Beans Soup

October is a glorious month on the Gulf Coast.  The oppressive humidity of summer is gone along with the threat of any big hurricanes.  The weather is still warm during the day and cools off nicely in the evening.  For me this is enough reason to start breaking out the soup recipes.  This is one of my husband’s favorite soups and he affectionately refers to it as “Lawnmower Soup”.

This recipe was given to me by my hairstylist, Beth.  A couple of years ago I was getting my hair cut and bemoaning the fact that I had no idea what to cook for dinner that night.  She suggested this soup using canned, seasoned greens and cooked on the stove-top.  I have made it that way numerous times, however, I really prefer to use the frozen collard greens.  This gives me the ability to season the soup the way I like it and to better control the salt content.  In addition, the texture of the cooked, frozen collard greens is much more to my liking.  This is a super easy meal to put together and is made healthier with turkey kielbasa, but if you prefer the pork kielbasa feel free to use it.  You could also substitute a small ham hock for the bacon.  Serve with cornbread for a complete meal.

1 (16-ounce) package frozen collard greens
2 ounces center-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch slices
1 small onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (15.5 ounce) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 (13-ounce) package turkey kielbasa
salt and black pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients except the kielbasa to a slow cooker.  Stir well.  Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.  Just before the soup is done, slice the kielbasa into bite-sized rounds.  Heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the sliced kielbasa in one layer and brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes each.  You may have to brown the kielbasa in batches.  Add the browned kielbasa to the slow cooker.  Stir well.  Add 1/4 cup water to the frying pan and scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add this to the slow cooker.  Stir well.  Taste and add salt if necessary.  Serve with additional crushed red pepper and/or pepper sauce.

Serves 4-6

adapted from a recipe given to me by my hair stylist, Beth (origin of the recipe is unknown to me)

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