Every time I read food blogs I end up saving a ton of them to Pinterest. But I'm not sure I've ever read a recipe and been so inspired that I immediately go to my kitchen and start cooking.
That is, I'd never done that until I read this post for hearty bean soup with bacon.
Such a humble dish, it seems surprising that beans would get me off the couch and into the oven. But I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. First off the recipe was dead simple. And I had a bag of black beans in my cupboard. And there was a chill in the air, so I was craving soup. It was the perfect storm.
What is it about beans and bacon that makes such an incredible combination?! I mean this would make a delicious vegetarian soup, but a touch of smoked bacon gives this dish such a deep and complex flavor. It also didn't hurt that I was using the best bacon I've ever had, this thick-cut smokey bacon from a tiny town in Minnesota across the river from the boy's hometown in Wisconsin.
Not sure my post will get you off the computer and into your kitchen, but I hope so!
Bean Soup with Bacon, adapted from Seasons and Suppers
You can thicken your soup in a couple of ways. Use an immersion blender to break the beans up just a bit (a potato masher or fork would work too). You can also thicken with a bit of cornstarch (or arrowroot starch) dissolved in a bit of water.
4 slices of bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces (if you don't have smokey bacon, add a few drops of liquid smoke to the soup, to taste)
1/3 cup diced onion
1 cup finely diced carrot (about 1/4-inch dice)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup dried beans (I used black beans)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1-2 drops of Liquid Smoke (don't add if you're using a super smokey bacon)
Optional: 2 TBSP cornstarch (or arrowroot starch) mixed with 2 TBSP water, to thicken
- In a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until almost crisp. Remove half the bacon, place in a small bowl, and store in the refrigerator.
- Discard all but 1 TBSP of the bacon fat from the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onions are tender.
- Add the broth, water, dried beans and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly, then immediately reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 90 minutes.
- After 90 minutes, start testing your beans by taking a bit of one, and continue simmering, covered, as necessary until beans are tender (testing every 15 minutes).
- Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add the tomato paste and Liquid Smoke (if using). Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (add more salt/pepper/tomato paste, to taste).
- To thicken the soup, use an immersion blender or potato masher to smash the beans. I didn't puree the soup completely and left some chunks of beans in there. If you’d like your soup a little thicker, add the cornstarch/water mixture to soup and cook over medium heat, stirring until soup thickens.
- Once the soup is at the consistency you'd like, add in the the reserved bacon pieces until warmed through.