Bean with Bacon Soup
I love how food (and music but that’s another post) can transport you to another time or place ~ maybe a great vacation ~ or maybe a time in your childhood. For me, this Bean with Bacon Soup does it. It’s always been a favorite of mine, though in my childhood, Bean with Bacon Soup came directly from the Campbell’s Soup kitchen. Its thick saltiness, achieved by using less water than the instructions recommended complimented by a fistful of smashed saltines until it acquired the consistency of mashed potatoes ~ mmmm ~ it warmed my insides on many cold, winter days.
Several years ago, feeling nostalgic, I bought a can from the grocery store. True to form, I added only half the recommended amount of water, heated it, poured it into a bowl and smashed my adult-size fistful of saltines onto the top. I couldn’t wait to dig in! The first bite was. . . disappointing. Wait. Something’s wrong. I l♥ve this soup. I tried again. . .and again. Sorry Campbell’s but your Bean with Bacon Soup just isn’t doing it for me anymore.
My husband suggested I make my own, since we were having ham for Easter dinner. “Use the bone and just make your own soup”, he encouraged. So I carefully ziplocked the bone, stuck it in the refrigerator. . .and forgot about it until such time as I threw it away. This storyline was repeated several times over the years until I recently read a blog post by Lori at Fake Food Free who practices three words to guide her year. One of her words this year is ‘DO‘.
“Do. I spend a lot of time thinking about things and planning for them. I mean a lot. This year I really need to remember that nothing is going to happen or change unless I actually do something. It’s time to set many things I’ve been thinking about into action”.
I know Lori wasn’t shaming me into making Bean with Bacon Soup, but I routinely put off doing things for a variety of reasons ~ too hard ~ no time ~ maybe sometimes I internally question whether I’m worth the dream. Lori’s quote really touched me because there are a lot of things I plan to do but don’t get around to it.
But back to the Bean with Bacon Soup. This recipe has two options because frankly, not everyone has a ham bone lying around. The first option is use the ham bone but with less bacon. The second option is no ham bone, but more bacon. You’ll have delicious, rich flavor with either method.
Mmmmmm crispy bacon cooking in my Le Creuset.
I removed the bacon from the pot, but left the grease, reserving the crispy bacon for later.
. . .then added the usual suspects ~ carrots » celery » onion. Also some fresh thyme and grated garlic.
. . .and because I had one ~ a big ol’ ham bone.
Some chicken stock . . .
And beans. . .a bunch of them!
Blend in the tomato paste and stir everything together. Put a lid on and let it simmer about half an hour. The kitchen smells amazing! You don’t get that from Campbells!
We’re almost there. Scoop out about 2 cups of soup. Using a blender (I like my immersion but a regular blender is great too) pulse it several times until it’s smooth. Pour the blended soup back into the pot along with the crisped bacon. Stir and give it a taste. If you like, add a touch of salt and pepper. Let it simmer another 10 minutes with the lid off then finish with fresh parsley.
Easy. Delicious. No fistful of crunched saltines required.
- 1/3 pound of thick cut Applewood smoked bacon OR 1/2 pound if not using ham bone
- ham bone (optional)
- 1 cup of diced onions
- 1 cup of diced carrots
- 1 cup of celery
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, minced
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 3 - cans of Great Northern beans, drained but NOT rinsed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup of tomato paste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, cook the chopped bacon until crisp.
- Remove the bacon from the pot, leaving the grease in the pan.
- Add carrots, celery and onions along with the ham bone if you're using one. Grate garlic over the top and add thyme.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes or until carrots are softened.
- Add the tomato paste, blend and continue cooking 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken stock, beans and crisped bacon.
- Cover and simmer about 30 minutes.
- Remove about 2 cups of the soup. Using either a blender or immersion blender, pulse several times to smooth.
- Return to the pot and blend, thickening the soup.
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.
- Continue simmering UNCOVERED 10 minutes.
- Add the fresh parsley and blend.