You can leave out the kale if you prefer; I only added it because it was calling to me from the fridge (so it wouldn't die lonely in the vegetable crisper). It also added to the nutritional content; my mom taught me the budget trick of using half as much meat and twice as many vegetables as most recipes call for. The onions and celery are pretty important for flavor, but if you don't like them, fine, leave them out. Add something you do like. Carrots or peppers would be good.
I used onion powder because some of my kids think they don't like onions. It's really the texture they revolt against; if I use onion powder or puree the onions, nobody notices them. The tomato and chicken bouillon enhance the meaty flavor.
This makes a big batch; you can freeze some for later!
Black Beans and Sausage
1 lb. black beans, or 3 14-oz. cans
2 medium onions, diced, or 1/3 c. onion powder or 2/3 c. dried minced onion
1 lb. sausage (or hotdogs), cut in coins
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced, or 1-2 tsp. garlic powder
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 Tbsp. chicken bouillon, or 3 cubes, or one 14-oz. can chicken broth
1 Tbsp. tomato powder, or use 1 Tbsp. tomato paste or 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
2-4 tiny drops thyme essential oil, or 1 tsp. powdered thyme, or 1-2 Tbsp. fresh leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
If starting with dry beans, sort through to find any bits of rock or dirt, rinse, then put in a large pot with 2 quarts of water and the onions. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 4 hours. I used a pressure cooker (a Kuhn Rikon, it's quick!) and needed only 1 ½ quarts water, cooked on high pressure for 25 minutes. Drain and reserve water. If using canned beans, also drain and reserve.
Add the meat and vegetables to the bean pot. Stir in chicken bouillon or broth, tomato powder, thyme, 1 tsp. salt, ¼ - ½ tsp. pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Heat through if it’s not warm enough. The flavor will be better after sitting covered for 20-30 minutes. If it's too thick, add more of the bean water.