Crockpot Sausage, Spinach and White Bean Soup

This week, we started our Entrepreneurial Adventure in Grade 3. I was lucky enough to be one of the 12 classrooms involved in this new project last year where students chose a charity and created a business to support the charity of their choice.

This year the project has more than doubled with almost 30 Grade 3 and 4 classrooms starting businesses and supporting charities. It is an incredible program that students buy into instantly. It is truly the most engaged hour of school for these kids in my classroom. (I try not to take it too personally…)

In our first session the students receive their “business notebooks” (read- small, dollarama notebook with their name on it) You would have thought I handed them a gold brick. They carefully turned it over in their hands, and flipped though the new pages with shear delight. This is where we keep all our business notes, ideas, questions, research and data.

 

We then move on to talk about what a charity is and some of the local charities that students could consider supporting. Then they are sent off for a week to research different charities and come back with information to present to their classmates. We talk about how we want the charity that we choose to use our hard earned money wisely and as one kid so eloquently put it “Not to spend it on junk!”

I’ll be interested to see what they choose this year…

In my pantry-stock-taking, I found a can of white kidney beans WAAAAYYYYYY at the back that had been long forgotten about. I decided this was the week to use it, so I searched up some soup recipes. (since we ate TERRIBLY over the Christmas break and I need to do something to start reversing the bad choices we made) I found this simple, yet hearty looking soup on one of my favorite blogs.

Sausage, spinach and white bean soup

Here is what you need:

  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 ham sausage ring, or andouille sausage if you want to be fancy
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 diced carrots
  • 2 diced celery stalks
  • 1 19 oz can of white beans (I used kidney)
  • dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • spinach

Sausage, spinach and white bean soup

I started by slicing up my ham sausage and browning it in a little oil

Then I just threw everything together in the crockpot and let it cook on low for 8 hours.

Sausage, spinach and white bean soup

Instead of wilting the spinach into the pot of soup, I put a little bit on the bottom of each bowl and let the hot soup wilt it.

Sausage, spinach and white bean soup

 

The verdict- This soup is amazing! I used a jalapeno ham sausage, and it gave the soup a bit of a spicy kick. You really could use any beans in this which is great too…because it can help use up what YOU have in your pantry. I will definitely make this again and would consider doubling it so there were lots of leftovers.

Crockpot Bolognese

By the time kids get to grade 3 there are (for the most part) quite proficient readers. Unfortunately, they still take almost everything literally.

The other day in gym class, at two separate times, 2 students came to me and showed me the ball they were working with.

Is this really elephant skin?

And both of them asked me the same question:

“Is this really elephant skin?”

This crockpot bolognese is one of the best pasta sauces I have ever made. Warning- it is a bit time consuming. You cannot just dump everything in your crockpot, but you will be rewarded with a creamy, flavorful sauce for all your effort!

Crockpot Bolognese

Here is what you will need to make this delicious sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 package of ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup white or red wine (I used red)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf

I started by finely dicing up my onion, celery and carrots and sauteing them in some canola oil until they were soft. (Actually, I let my ninja blender dice up the veggies…way easier and faster!)

Then I added the garlic and tomato paste and let that cook another minute or so.

Next, because I have a large skillet that can fit both the veggies and the meat, I added in the ground beef and broke it up nice and fine and cooked it till it was no longer pink.

You can, at this point, try to strain off any excess fat before making the actual sauce.

Then stir in the salt, thyme, oregano, pepper and nutmeg.

To the whole mixture, add 1 cup of milk and bring it up to a rapid boil. You want to cook this mixture until almost all the milk is gone.(between 5-10 minutes)

Then repeat with 1 cup of wine.

Move the meat mixture to the crockpot and add in 2 drained cans of whole tomatoes (save some of the liquid…you may need it).

Squish the tomatoes with a fork (you may want safety goggles and a splash guard for this) and mix everything together.

Add a bay leaf (I like to add 2 for good measure) and cook on low for 6-8 hours. (I let mine cook all day…)

Crockpot Bolognese

Near the end of the cooking time, check your sauce. If the sauce looks too dry, add some reserved tomato liquid and let it cook a little more. If it looks too wet, take the lid off and cook on high a little bit until some of the liquid evaporates.

Crockpot Bolognese

The verdict- this sauce is a lot of work, but it is so delicious! It makes enough that we can eat it for a few days, so I guess all that work is worth it.