Sonoran Sausage Soup – Hearty with Beans

Uncle Smokey here today with an old family recipe for the cold winter days – sausage soup.    It’s a thick and meaty meal – and best of all – it only needs one pot!    Love one pot meals since I don’t much like doing dishes.

Warm Soup for Cold Winter Days

I call it soup, but it is bordering on a stew.    There is little water left when you are done, and mostly just thick filling bites.

This soup was common in the Southwest in the pioneer days, and still is found on the stoves in the remoter mountain regions of Sonora.  My family had this often during the Depression.  Ma considers it a comfort food since it reminds her of childhood.  Grandma never wanted to see it again because it reminds her of desperate times.

Sausage soup is great in the winter months – because you can put it on the back of the wood stove to simmer slowly all day.    It works well in a modern crock pot too.    An off-grider asked me if it would work in an “instant cooker” which is a type of electric pressure cooker.    An electric device I asked?!    Sure, because they don’t use a crock pot – but turn the generator on in evenings in winter.    My answer is – sure!    Some of my kin can this soup up in quart canning jars.    Since meat needs to be canned with a pressure canner to be safe, there is no reason you can’t cook it for dinner in a pressure cooker to start with.


Sonoran Sausage Soup ~ Overview of Ingredients

Sausage.    Beans.    Potatoes.    Greens.    Herbs & Spices.  Simple!

Which Sausage?

Any sausage that you like.  Chorizo is spicy and nice.    Portuguese linguiça sausage lends meatiness and a bit of spice.    I have used breakfast sausage on occasion, but I skip the sagey ones.    To be honest, I have even made this winter soup with some hamburger straight out of the freezer and into the bottom of the crock pot.


Which Beans?

Not a fan of pinto beans for this.    Works good with white or Navy beans.    Used some Anazazi beans once because I had them – and that worked well.    Black-eyed “peas” are really a bean and they work well too.    Note that you are using more liquid than you would for simply cooking beans.    This makes your soup a soup instead of a pot of beans.

We do have an article warning about beans.  Some folks can’t eat them – or can’t eat certain ones.  Know yourself!  Listen to your body.


These help thicken the soup.    But if you want to boost the protein and reduce carbohydrates a tad, then take about ½ the beans and mash them up to thicken the soup. Grandma also the beans when she had no potatoes handy.

Greens and herbs in one! Green onions from the grocery store.


In the pioneer days, scurvy was an issue so the winter bean stew would often include whatever greens were available.    If you garden and have fresh kale or chard, or even beet greens, get them ready.    Green onions too. (Editor’s note – I’itoi onion tops are available in the winter months if you grow these desert adapted bunching onions.)

Foraged greens?

Sure!    I usually find some weedy mustards in the Southwest in February and they work.   Wild dock (Rumex species) works well too.    An old-timer I knew called it “miners spinach” because he ate it when he was out working his claim near the Dragoon Mountains.    There are actually several different species of Rumex, and all the young leaves add a nice tart taste to this soup.  Many other foraged greens to choose from – here’s our ever growing list – on our Forage Page.

Herbs and Spices

Use flavors that mesh well with your sausage.    Example, if it’s fennel sausage, add some fennel seed and garlic. If it’s chorizo, consider cumin and smoked paprika.

It’s not real pretty but it sure tastes fine and warms you up!

Sonoran Sausage Soup

8 ounces sausage, cut into 1 /2 inch chunks or crumbled if it's not a firm sausage
oil to cook sausage in
2 teaspoons of herbs that go with your sausage 
1 cup dry beans
8 cups water or broth, use chicken, beef, or even turkey if you have some 
ham hock if you have one
1 medium onion, diced fine
3 medium potatoes, diced fine or grated
8 cups lightly packed greens, cut finely so they don't string off your spoon
2 teaspoons cumin, smoked paprika, or other herbs to match sausage flavor
salt to taste

Put the sausage and some oil in the pot and brown it.    In a crock pot you can’t do this, but I do put it on the bottom so the sausage oils can bubble up through the beans.

Add beans, onion, potatoes, liquid, and a ham hock if you have it.

Simmer this until the beans are done.

Once beans are cooked, and at least 1 /2 hour before serving, add the herbs, and optional salt.    Stir in well so the flavor can develop.

Now add the greens, but don’t stir them in.    You just put them on the top of the pot so they get steamed and wilty, not overcooked.

Once the greens are wilted, then stir them in.    Serve.

Total Cheat

Open a can of beans.  Slice in some sausage.  Add some salsa.  Heat and serve.savor-the-southwest-sausage-soup


More about Herbs & Cooking –

soule-kino-southwestThe last few copies of this out-of-print award winning Southwestern book are now for sale. Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today  

The review says:

“Award-winning garden writer Dr. Jacqueline A. Soule has pulled together a fascinating book on the life of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino and some of the plants that he brought to Southern Arizona and northwestern Sonora, and area called the Pimeria Alta.”

A steal at only $20!  This link is to our sales site. The profits from the sale go to the local Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute.  We hope you will help support this great Southwest non-profit!

And Here’s Our Cookbook!

savor-honey-bookMay we suggest our dandy little cookbook?   Christmas is coming 😉

Using Honey in New and Savory Ways offers 36 pages of tips for using honey in your cooking, as well as in all manner of dishes. A steal at only $6!

We hope you will help support some local Southwest folks!
From the review:
“Honey is for more than desserts and this book can help! Using honey in cooking savory dishes helps engage all your taste buds and adds a layer of added flavor to everyday dishes – plus holiday fare.”

Beekeeper?  We offer volume discounts – because if you sell honey in local markets you might want to offer some of these books as well.

Legal Note

© Article copyright Savor the Southwest // Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. You must include a link back to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.


The authors of this website have researched the edibility of the materials we discuss, however, humans vary in their ability to tolerate different foods, drinks, and herbs. Individuals consuming flowers, plants, animals or derivatives mentioned in this blog do so entirely at their own risk. The authors on this site cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction. In case of doubt please consult your medical practitioner.


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