Friday, September 9, 2011

Bell's Octoberfest Soup

Just two words — Ozapft is!, meaning simply, “It’s tapped!” Once spoken, the world’s most famous beer bash, the Oktoberfest, can begin.  This year, the beginning of that epic German tradition will begin on September 17, and there are many different reasons to celebrate. Some people simply appreciate the rich and storied traditions of this 177-year-old affair.  Some use it as an excuse to dress up in their finest traditional Bavarian clothing while singing Ein Prosit at the top of their lungs or competing in a friendly liter stein holding competition.  Others (most) use it as an excuse to get ragingly drunk in public and blame it on the festival, as if lederhosen grants some sort of immunity against alcoholism.

For the majority of us that celebrate the latter, fear not.  With this recipe, you can have a delicious meal while still sneaking a little beer in there.  Even though it's still over a week away, Oktoberfest beers have been lining the store shelves for weeks (the beer community are a very progressive people), so you can get a head start on the Oktoberfest festivities right away!

For this recipe, you will need:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1 ½ pounds sausage*
2 medium onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 12 ounce bottles of Bell's Octoberfest
2 15 ounce cans of chicken broth
2 15 ounce cans of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach
*I used 4 fresh bratwursts – 2 habanero flavored and 2 serrano cheddar flavored from a local butcher.  Any type of sausage/bratwurst/kielbasa/chorizo will work here. I just like something spicy because it plays so well off of the sweet potatoes.

Cut sausage crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain.

If there is a lot of oil in the pan, you can drain some off, otherwise leave the oil in the pan.  Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes.

Add beer and broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. Add browned sausage and drained beans to soup. Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

Goes great with Nicie Spicie Beer Bread!

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