1 pound hot Italian sausages (remove from casing if you buy links)
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or homemade broth)
29 oz. petite diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes diced -- about 4 cups)
4 medium carrots, sliced
16 oz can Northern beans, undrained
1 1/2 cups fresh lima beans
Rind of Parmesan cheese
2 cups water (I just used one can of water and rinsed out my bean can in the process)
1 large sprig fresh rosemary (about 4 inches long)
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (1/3 cup)
Small handful fresh thyme (6 sprigs)
1/2 - 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste
10 oz. package of chopped kale (I use Trader Joe's organic kale) or use fresh kale and chop it up -- probably about 6 cups)
Heat olive oil, add sausage, breaking up, and onion until browned, add garlic cloves and cook about 30 minutes longer. Add chicken broth and scrap up bits on the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes, carrots, lima beans, canned beans (undrained), water, Parmesan cheese rind, fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer at least 45 minutes or until lima beans are very tender. Remove stems from herbs.
Add chopped kale and stir until wilted and cooked. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Serve with crusty bread toasted in the oven.
VARIATIONS: You could also add butternut squash, sweet potatoes, white or red potatoes, zucchini squash, use other kinds of beans, add celery, use chicken instead of Italian sausage, add grains such as quinoa, barley, even small noodles. You could leave out the meat and use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version of this stew. It has endless possibilities!