Cajun Bean Soup and Lessons Never Learned

I remember it like it was yesterday… Mrs. Weist, my first grade teacher, handed out a coloring assignment with a long list of directions at the top. I immediately got to work, coloring furiously as I worked my way down the list of directions. About halfway down the list, though, I ran into trouble. One of the directions was to skip the first few steps, which I had already completed. Another step further down said to use a blue crayon for a step instead of a red crayon.

I was furious. What stupid directions! Why would you bother to write down steps that you would later skip over entirely? Poor directions aside, in an attempt to complete the assignment correctly, I started to color over my work with the white crayon, trying to erase what I had done. If you have ever tried to color over something with a white crayon, you can imagine how successful that was. My paper was a giant mess of smeared red crayon – no blue to be seen. Major FAIL!

Finally, I handed in my paper, and my teacher shook her head in disapproval. She gave me a bit of a lecture (she did that sometimes) on the importance of reading the directions in their entirety before beginning to work. Thinking back, I’m not even sure how much I could read in first grade, but that is not really relevant.

Needless to say, the moment scarred me, much like Mrs. Weist’s other lectures and lessons (she was actually a nice teacher when she wasn’t lecturing me). I also distinctly remember having to stay in from recess because I couldn’t correctly write the letter ‘a’. That is not relevant, either.

You may be wondering what this has to do with cooking, and rightfully so. It does, however, have everything to do with why I can’t follow a recipe. Although I was scarred by the experience, I did not learn my lesson. I still tend to move full speed ahead without fully reading a recipe. So, I end up improvising quite often.

Enter this recipe for cajun bean soup! It started with a blog post for Spicy Red Bean Soup from Evil Shenanigans… I intended to make the recipe, as written, except for the pureeing part. However, I started chopping veggies before I started to read the recipe. I thought, “I know what veggies go in a cajun recipe” so I started chopping away. 3 cups of veggies later, I started to read the recipe. I had just about doubled the amounts in the recipe. I also discovered that I didn’t have any bay leaves. So, I figured, I would just wing it. I like my soup with extra veggies, anyway. I also found a jar of my Cajun Spice Mix left in the pantry, so I decided to use that instead of the garlic and spices in the original recipe.

I’m sure the soup would have been delicious (perhaps better than mine) had I actually read and followed the original recipe. I must say, though, that my improvised version turned out to be pretty tasty! Perhaps that’s why I never learn my lesson…

My Recipe for Cajun Bean Soup

(Adapted from Spicy Bean Soup by Kelly @ Evil Shenanigans… who adapted from Emeril Legasse via Food Network)

  • 8 ounces andouille sausage, diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup red and green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun Spice Mix
  • 3 – 15 ounce cans light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups chicken stock

Heat a dutch oven or a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced sausage and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the fat has rendered and the sausage is browned. Remove the sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of the pot with the drippings from the sausage. Add the celery, bell peppers, onion, and spice mix.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender.

Add the chicken stock to the pot, scraping any browned bits from the bottom.  Add the beans and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly. Use a hand-held immersion blender to blend the soup to your desired thickness. I prefer soups to be thick and chunky, so I only partially pureed the soup. If you like a smoother texture, by all means, have at it! Stir the sausage back into the soup (or use as a garnish if you pureed the soup).  Enjoy!

12 Responses to Cajun Bean Soup and Lessons Never Learned

  1. Ah, the tortured memories we harbor from our youth. I almost failed a test in 2nd grade because I didn’t dot my “i”s and cross my “t”s. Needless to say, I have never missed a dot or a line since then. Great post!

  2. First grade was kind of blur for me. I was always benched at recess and was always day dreaming. I was a pretty good kid. Just stubborn. LOL. Nice soup. Sometimes it’s great not to follow directions!

  3. I know, I still remember all the stuff my teachers told me from way back then. I wish I didn’t. But you know, why follow directions? They kill the opportunity to improvise and come up with such tasty original fare! ;)

  4. I think taking a recipe and running with it creates the best dishes! When it comes to cooking, working with what you have on hand is so much more economical than running out to buy new ingredients for every dish. I love what you did with this soup!

  5. I love the fresh summer vegetables, but I miss the cold seasons’ hearty soups. I’ve got this one bookmarked.

    Recipes are meant to be improvised upon. I like the chunky vegetables rather than the puree too. Hm…maybe some okra…

  6. Love the story about following directions. I have to admit to playing by the rules when it comes to many things (Ikea flat packs, anyone?) but with recipes it’s anything goes. Great triumphs, but great disasters too. Great fun, though!

  7. Sometimes improvising turns out the best results! This looks delicious! I think your such an awesome cook for being able to improvise – not everyone can do that and have it turn out well.

  8. This soup looks wonderful. I decided 20 years ago when we moved toTexas that I couldn’t wait for it to get cold to make soups so now I make them when the mood hits. — Sherry

  9. I never met a recipe I wouldn’t mangle before I was halfway through it, so I know how you feel about that long-ago homework assignment!

    That soup looks wonderful with the sausages, but we’re having a vegetarian week this week so I’m going to mangle it up vegan-style. We’ll use smoked paprika and a pot of veggie stock I made out of odds and ends from last week’s cooking. Like you I like plenty of veggies in my soup and I prefer chunky to pureed, so this recipe will make a nice base even when I leave out the sausage.

    • Gretchen – Yes, this soup would actually be quite good as a vegetarian/vegan soup. You can actually substitute some vegan sausage or tofu for the sausage in the recipe if you like, and I would probably up the spices a bit since the cajun sausage adds a lot of flavor and heat!