I used pork sausage for this soup (can’t remember the exact flavor… my deli counter had it on special that day). Any uncooked sausage should work. Chicken, turkey, mild or hot Italian (they’re usually pork)… etc. I bought 3 sausages that totaled a bit over a pound. Anything around that mark would work.
You don’t have to use little potatoes, but I find them the most convenient. As long as your potatoes are about 3/4 pound, cutting them into small-ish (but not too small) pieces will be fine.
I chose dried beans because the canned ones can come apart after 8 hours of slow cooking. If you don’t mind that, use canned ones
For the crispy shallot topping:
1 peeled shallot, sliced thinly
1-3 TBL neutral cooking oil, such as grapeseed In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots and stir frequently. As the oil continues to heat, the shallots will start to color. When they get to golden brown, scoop them out of the oil and drain on a paper towel. You want to pull them out of the oil a little before dark brown, as they'll continue to cook and crisp up on the paper towel.
There are countless ways to jazz up the basic recipe. Here are just a few:
Herbs: I’m partial to dill for yogurt dressing, but don’t stop there. Add finely chopped tarragon, cilantro, parsley, chives, or mint, separately or in combination.
Chile + lime: Swap out lemon for lime, and fold in a minced chile pepper.
Tahini + sumac: Add a big spoonful or two of tahini and dust with sumac. Serve with everything.
Roasted garlic: Stir in three or four cloves of roasted garlic that you’ve smashed and smeared on a cutting board.
Spices: So many choices here. Want to go more of an Indian route? Mix in freshly ground cumin seed, coriander seed, and a pinch of Garam masala. In a Spanish frame of mind? Try smoked paprika and freshly ground fennel seed.