The $10 Meal: Spicy Sausage and White Bean Stew

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$10 MealWhen the weather cools down and the leaves start to change, there’s nothing better to turn to than a warm, hearty stew.

Luckily, in addition to being comforting, fall soups and stews are also very easy on the budget: Slow cooking transforms cheaper cuts of meat into luxurious, fall-off-the-bone creations. This particular stew also highlights a humble but yummy ingredient, an Italian peasant favorite: white beans.

The spicy sausage, which is inexpensive pretty much anywhere, adds tons of flavor to the broth, while the white beans nourish you with fiber and protein without adding fat. You need little else besides a few pantry staples to make your dish complete—just a hit of leftover white wine to deglaze the pan, and some fresh spinach, which adds more iron and numerous vitamins and minerals, not to mention a hit of green. The result is a healthy, minimalist, one-pot meal that takes less than an hour to reach homey perfection. Serve your stew with a crusty baguette or a slice of ciabatta, and dinner is served.

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Spicy Sausage and White Bean Stew

Serves: 2-4
Time: 35 minutes
Cost: $10

Note: If you want to save even more money, you can use dried beans. Just remember to soak them overnight. Then cook them for longer in the broth (keeping the pot covered) until tender, before proceeding with the recipe. You might need to add more stock at the end of this process. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup leftover white wine
Two 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained (or use dried, see note)
2 cups chicken stock (you can even make your own)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups tightly packed spinach leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium Dutch oven or heavy-lidded saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, and break the meat into 1-inch pieces with your spatula. Cook until browned. Remove the sausage to a bowl, turn the heat down to medium and add the onions. Sauté, stirring constantly at first, until soft, about 5 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get the brown bits, which are especially flavorful. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, until fragrant.

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Deglaze the pan with the wine, again scraping the bottom to incorporate the brown bits. Cook for 3 minutes, until reduced, then add the white beans, sausage, chicken stock and thyme. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. The broth will have thickened, and the beans will be soft, but not falling apart. Stir in the spinach and cook for another two minutes, until wilted. Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed (sausage and canned beans can be quite salty, so don’t go overboard).

If you want to make this in a slow cooker, you can skip a few steps by sauteeing the sausage, onion and garlic together in olive oil. Then, put the contents of the pan into a slow cooker with the beans, sausage, stock, and thyme. Cook on low for about 5 hours, until thickened. Then stir in the spinach, as above. Serving suggestions are the same.

Serve the stew in bowls alongside a good crusty baguette.

More Affordable Meal Options:

Throwing a party? Then you’ll need the 9 Best Quick Dinner Party Dishes.
If you happen to have a pot handy, give these healthy, easy one-pot meals a shot.
For $10, you can also have a yummy risotto.

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  • Michele

    A quick and very inexpensive meal: On Sunday I cook a whole bag of lentils until desired tenderness and refrigerate then during the week I have lentil soup= a large scoop of lentils in a big mug add water and heat. Now the key is to use Bragg’s Liquid Amino for seasoning (to taste) it makes the soup taste like you cooked it for hours and if you want to add something more I will break up half a brick of ramien noodles and crumble on top before cooking in the micro (on coffee reheat) by the time the soup is heated and I mix the Bragg’s  & the noodles up they are soft and delicious!
     High in fiber- High in Protein -FAST meal and you can add the lentils to just about anything all week eggs/pasta etc…..Try It you’ll like it!!!:-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tricia-Blazy/583342052 Tricia Blazy

      I actually prefer raw lentils! They’re not chalky like cooked ones. I put less than a quarter cup of dried lentils in a water tight lunch/tupperware container with at least 3 times the water, and by lunchtime i have a fresh-tasting bean-like snack (drain excess water). You can add the Bragg’s to it. That would be awesome. It would taste like a fresh salad. Sometimes it may take a little longer to re-hydrate the beans, so soaking them overnight would be even better. If you leave them on the counter too long absorbing the water, they will eventually sprout (which isn’t a bad thing!). I love experimenting with lentils! can you tell?

  • Krahulec

    I tried the recipe over the weekend using my crockpot and it was great! I modified the recipe to make it with lower sodium by using ground pork which was on sale (plus $0.75 coupon attached), skipped the wine since I don’t use that in my cooking (saving me a couple more $), used low sodium organic chicken stock, rinsed the canned white beans to remove any extra salt and used Mrs. Dash garlic and herb vs. purchasing the garlic and thyme separately.  Still turned out beautifully and was just what I needed over the snowy weekend.  I am going to add mushrooms and possibly some organic frozen veggies next time to really make it even more hearty and healthy.  

  • Krahulec

    Was also thinking if you have any friends or you yourself are a vegetarian, you can adjust the recipe by adding mock ground beef (in the frozen food isle), and use low sodium vegetable stock. Same great flavors but without the meat.  And it could bring the cost down under $10.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7609955 Katie Moore

    This was so tasty. I subbed kale for the spinach and added it earlier to get tender.  Also, I added frozen corn, and since I could only find mild sausage I added some red pepper to spice it up!

  • Ms. Copeland

    Delicious!  Made first without sausage for my vegetarian guest, then added sausage next day for perfection!  Used ‘herbs de provence’ with thyme.