Sausage & White Bean Soup
Instead of starting with a hambone (which you won't have unless you've just eaten a baked ham) and dried beans (which require significant soaking and simmering time), simply open cans of chicken broth and beans. Minced prosciutto instantly transforms commercial chicken broth into a ham-flavored soup base. Italian sausage reinforces the pork flavor and makes the soup substantial and satisfying. Mashing some of the canned beans thickens the soup and gives it the body of one that's been long simmered. Sauteed onions, carrots and celery add depth of flavor and ensure the soup's homemade feel.
Transfer to a 2-quart Thermos-type bottle after the first simmer. Can be cooked ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days.
Copyright 2004 USA WEEKEND and columnist Pam Anderson. All rights reserved.