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Author Notes: I can do cheap. I raised three girls, a large part of the time as a single parent, and our house was the one where everyone hung out, and consequently got fed. So I learned to make big pots of soup and stew that would feed a horde of hungry girls and even hungrier boyfriends. This one, unfortunately, I didn't learn until after the girls were grown, but it would certainly have been a favorite, as it is now that I have more money and fewer mouths to feed. I figure it comes in at close to 50 cents a serving. You can use most any kind of smoked sausage, or fresh Italian hot sausage. - Kayb —Kayb
- 1 pound navy or great northern beans (I prefer navy), soaked overnight
- 1 large onion, diced small
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cans diced tomatos
- 1 pound smoked sausage, or fresh hot Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced oregano
- salt and black pepper
- If using fresh Italian sausage, remove it from the casings and brown it, breaking up big chunks. Drain and set aside.
- Cook diced onion and carrots in olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic. Cook another minute or so, until fragrant. If using smoked sausage, slice it in 1/4 inch slices and add it to skillet to brown slightly.
- Add tomatos, meat (if using the Italian sausage), and beans, and enough water to cover surface of beans by about 2 inches. Stir in oregano and thyme.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for about an hour. Add more water if needed. Test and add salt and black pepper if needed.
- Stir in chopped basil, and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with a good, crusty Italian bread.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dirt Cheap Dinner
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