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updated: 11/23/2011 1:07 PM

Bean stew eases pre-holiday meal stress

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  • Warm and filling with just the right amount of kick, White bean and fennel stew will keep you company on any winter's eve.

      Warm and filling with just the right amount of kick, White bean and fennel stew will keep you company on any winter's eve.
    Alicia Ross/Desperation Dinners


Thanksgiving is practically here. Whether you've been cooking for a week or you haven't quite decided what to serve, chances are, for a regular evening's meal, you want something besides the traditional Thanksgiving fare.

So today's offering, part of my "foods to be thankful for" series, is a hearty bean stew with the spicy flavors of hot Italian sausage and piquant fennel. Simple to make, yet immensely complex in flavor, this warm dinner takes only 30 minutes to stir together. You can simmer for up to 30 more minutes, but it's not necessary other than to provide serving flexibility.

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For our vegetarian friends, using vegetable stock and omitting the sausage (our using a veggie variety) still yields a wonderful stew that will warm and satisfy you.

NOTE: Next week is the last week of my "foods to be thankful for" series. I'll wrap it up with a wonderful recipe that will not only delight your family and friends, but can also be used for gifts or entertaining. In the meantime, check out for more favorite recipes everyday.

Suggested menu: White Bean and Fennel Stew With Spicy Italian Sausage with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with Italian dressing and Italian dinner rolls.

•Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" Write them at Desperation Dinners, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or More at the Desperation Dinners Web site at

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