Monday, January 19, 2015

Recipe Monday - Bean with Bacon Soup

I admit loving soups, any soup. So much so, that I think I could eat some type of soup every day of the week and still never tire of it. There are so many ways of varying soups that the sky is really the limit when it comes to changing up a recipe.

My mother’s go to soup when I was young was vegetable soup, and boy did she make great vegetable soup. The only thing that made it even better was when we had run out of okra from the garden. We had a huge garden every summer and our garden bounty was lovingly canned or frozen to enjoy throughout the winter months. There are very few vegetables that I don’t like. Okra is at the top of my list of icky veggies. It makes me grimace just typing the word Okra! Since both of my parents worked outside the home, there were some dinners that included soup from a can….Campbell’s soup. We would each get to pick the soup we wanted, and my favorite was Bean with Bacon soup. I don’t recall actually seeing bacon in it, but I sure did love the taste.

Fast forward some 40 years and I still love Bean with Bacon soup. However, I do not eat soups from a can anymore because I like controlling what is in my soups and I love the process of cooking with my hands. Most soups can be made ahead on the weekends and enjoyed the following week and some are great to freeze for those evenings when no one feels like cooking. Some soups are quite fast at making and others do better low and slow.

This soup falls under the low and slow method and should be made when you have at least a half a day to stay inside and sew or just enjoy relaxing. There is not a lot of babysitting involved once you get it cooking so you can do other things while occasionally popping in to check on your soup. The bonus is your home will radiate the most wonderful smell of down-home comfort food. If you have a visitor, don’t be surprised if he/she wants to stay for dinner. It smells just that good! You could try making it in a crock pot, but the beauty of this soup is the cooking down of it which makes it thick and creamy. The nature of a crock pot is to hold in all of the liquid so you won't get the same results if you use it.

I’m going to include two ways of making this soup so you get to decide just how much time you have to devote to it. With the first method, you use dry beans that you have soaked overnight and in the second method you use canned beans from a can. I’ll start with the pre-soaked dry beans and add in the second method at the end under notes.

Note that I do not include any additional salt in the recipe below. The bacon, chicken stock and tomato sauce adds in more than enough. You also get to control how much bacon you use. I usually add at least 1/2 pound but have done as much as 1 pound when I wanted to get a bite of bacon in every bite!

Below the directions are some step by step pictures for those like me who like to see progress photos!

Bean with Bacon Soup

  • 1 pound of dried great northern beans, washed
  • 1/2 to 1 pound bacon (diced) 
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 T (mild) fire roasted diced green chiles
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 32 ounces  reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 to 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 T fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  1. Rinse and sort beans and put in large bowl or pot. Add enough water to cover beans by 2 to 3 inches.
  2. Allow beans to stand overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse beans and place in large pot. Add 2 cups of water and chicken stock.
  3. Bring beans to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and simmer gently with lid tilted for 2 hours or until bean are tender.
  4. Remove about 1/2 of cooked beans and mash by hand or in blender. Stir mashed beans back to pot.
  5. Place the diced bacon in a pan and cook while continually stirring over medium-high heat until browned, about 10 minutes. (Be watchful that the bacon does not burn. I generally remove bacon from the pan right before it looks completely done because it will continue to cook and crisp up.)
  6. Remove bacon bits from pan and drain on paper towel.
  7. Remove all but 1 T of bacon grease from pan. Add in onion and carrots to pan and cook until softened. Add in chiles and cook for 2 minutes longer.
  8. Stir in the onion/carrot/chiles mixture to beans. 
  9. Stir in tomato sauce, garlic powder, pepper, and drained bacon bits. Stir beans well to incorporate all ingredients. [Note: if mixture looks a bit too thick at this point, you can add in a can of chicken stock or water and continue to step 10.]
  10. Remove lid from pot, increase heat to medium until it starts to really bubble and then reduce heat to low and cook down for approximately 1 hour. Don't forget to occasionally stir beans during this stage to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pot. 
NOTES: If you want to shorten the cook time, you can use canned beans. I have used 4 cans of S&W White Beans (50% less sodium). Open cans and put bean in colander and rinse well. Add half of the beans to the pot and mash the other half. Add mashed beans to pot and continue at step 5 above.

Bon Appetit!

I prefer to allow my beans to soak overnight. In the picture below is how much the beans expanded overnight while left in the water. Make sure to add enough water the night before.
This next picture show about half the beans after they have been blended in my Vitamix machine. You can't see it but there are still some small chunks in there.
 Bacon cooking in pan. It looks like it is not quite done yet, doesn't it?
 After draining for 15 minutes, the bacon is perfect...not too hard and not too soggy.
 Carrots, chilis, and onions sweating in just a tiny bit of bacon grease.
 2 T of chopped cilantro.
Everything mixed in and the start of cooking. It looks a little too red doesn't it? You may think at this point that you added too much tomato sauce but you didn't....don't worry.
This next picture shows how much I cooked it down. I would say it's been reduced 1-1/2 to 2 inches from where it started. Now look at the color?  Deep, rich, thick, yummy soup just begging for you to sample! Hey, you were the cook -- you deserve first taste.

1 comment:

  1. JoJo, I love bean with bacon soup and this looks sooo good. Can't wait to try it.



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