Sunday, May 1, 2016

Bean and Bacon Soup

I Love bean and bacon soup... reminds me of when I was little and would eat the canned bean and bacon soup with soda crackers.... LOTS of soda crackers. But since I am grown my tastes of grown too. I watched the pioneer woman (my usual Saturday morning 'I need to stay in bed longer' ritual) the other day and she made this and yes, I just had to try it. Click here for the original recipe.  I didn't soak my beans like she did, just bought the canned great northern beans. (saves time) I also like to cook my bacon on a foil lined cookie sheet in the oven. Stays flat and you can cook a lot more too. I made the soup according to her recipe but something was missing. You know the canned soup from my child hood kind of had a smoky flavor???.... So I added a little smoky paprika, and liquid smoke to it and a little thyme. Loved it.
I served this with Grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches (love to use Monterey jack cheese when making grilled cheese sandwiches and this time I added a couple of slices of cooked bacon) OH MY goodness!! IF you haven't made a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon in it you MUST try! I like to cut my grilled cheese into strips... that way you can dunk into the soup. Enjoy!!

Bean and Bacon Soup
6 to 8 slices thick-cut peppered bacon-cooked ahead of time (see below)
1 whole Onion, Diced
2 whole Large Carrots, Peeled And Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 to 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 
1/2 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
4  to 6 cups  Chicken Stock (I used a whole box of chicken stock)
3-(14 oz) Can great northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (I had hickory flavored on hand)
2 whole Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste (I start out with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)
Chopped cooked bacon for garnish, if desired

Cook your bacon by preheating the oven to 375. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place strips of bacon across the baking sheet in a single layer. Baker for 20 to 22 minutes until cooked through and crispy. Remove from baking sheet onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. 
SAVE THE BACON FAT. I pick up the corners of the foil and form a funnel and pour into an empty clean jar with a lid. You will use for this recipe and then you can store in the refrigerator for other uses. (It's great to saute veggies in for different soups and I like to drizzle on brussels sprouts before baking in the oven.)
Chop the bacon into small bite size pieces, set aside about 1/2 cup or so for garnishing. The rest goes in the soup. (If you made more than 10 pieces save some in strips for grilled cheese sandwiches)
In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease, then add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to soften, add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon or so of Flour, and stir. Then add the Thyme, parsley,  paprika, and salt and pepper. Let cook for another minute and the seasonings start to be fragrant.
Next add your Chicken broth, beans, the bay leaves and liquid smoke and chopped bacon. Stir at this point to make sure all the seasoning and flour are scraped off the bottom of the pan and all combined. Bring this up to a boil, then turn the heat down to a medium / low heat and let simmer for at least a 1/2 hour or up to an hour or so. If you need to add more broth you can. I think I added another cup or two. Cook until your veggies are tender. Taste and add more salt and Pepper if necessary. 
Serve and garnish with bacon bits. AND it goes great with grilled cheese. 

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