Monday, January 24, 2011

Bean with Bacon Soup

A hardy soup of navy beans with a mirepoix of veggies and plenty of bacon flavor.
A hardy soup of navy beans with a mirepoix of veggies and plenty of bacon flavor.

Bean with Bacon Soup

I've had this Bean with Bacon soup on my mind for awhile now since the canned version of Campbells is one of The Cajun's favorite. Since the dry beans had been hanging around the pantry waiting for me to write this soup recipe, I decided to go ahead and make it this weekend.

Now, fair warning. This is a bean with bacon soup, so seeing as bacon is a primary ingredient, well... I used a full package of bacon for a pound of beans. I wanted PUH-lenty of bacon flavor, so don't go scoffing at me okay? Use what you want - even 4 slices would probably still make a nice flavorful soup - but I say go for it.

While I'm on this thought, isn't it super aggravating how some manufacturers have changed the familiar one pound package of bacon to 12-ounces so that it still looks like we are buying a pound of bacon? We're actually paying what we used to pay for a full pound and getting less and guess what? It's happening with a lot of the products we buy and it infuriates me. Do they seriously think we consumers don't notice this? {tucking away the soapbox now}

You really need a good base for this soup in order to get the full pork flavor, so I recommend using a good ham bone or several ham hocks and taking the time to make a flavorful stock, which can be made ahead. It will really make a huge difference. This time I happened to have 4 cups of frozen pork broth that was leftover from the last time I made the cheater pulled pork (the boiled version, not the crockpot one) that I used in place of the stock here. Though not as full flavored as the ham bone stock, it really did boost the pork flavor for this soup. Another good reason to do a cheater pulled pork that way!

For the rest of the liquid, use plain water or even a combination of water and a vegetable, pork or chicken broth. You can certainly make this with only water or a combination of water and commercial broths, however you will not have the full pork flavor that will make it like the canned version we all love so much.

I have to say, while this soup may not be a perfect match to the red and white can, it sure turned out delicious and pretty darned close in flavor. The Cajun loved it, and even said it had more bacon flavor than the canned. If you ask me, there ain't a thing bad about that!

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Recipe: Bean with Bacon Soup

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings


For the Stock:
  • 1 large meaty hambone or 3 ham hocks
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 2 whole celery ribs with leaves, rinsed and cut into large chunks
  • 2 large carrots, unpeeled, rinsed and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 4 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of whole peppercorns
For the Soup:
  • 1 pound bag of dry navy (pea) beans
  • 1 pound of bacon, divided
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1/2 of a 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 8 turns of the pepper grinder
  • Pinch of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of chicken base (like Better Than Bouillon)
  • 4 cups of pork, vegetable, chicken stock or broth, or water, or any combination
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Liquid Smoke (like Colgin), optional
  • Couple dashes of red pepper flakes, or Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), optional
  • Hot sauce, for the table

The night before, place the beans into a pot or large bowl, cover with water and let soak overnight. For the stock, place ham bone or hocks in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add the remaining stock ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain, reserving the bone and stock; discard vegetables. Once cooled, pick off any meat from the bone, reserving the meat and discarding the bone.

When ready to cook, drain the beans and set aside. Use kitchen shears to cut the bacon into pieces into a soup pot or Dutch oven; cook over medium high heat until softened but not crisp. Remove about 1/3 of the bacon to reserve for garnish. Add the onion, carrots and celery to the remaining bacon; cook and stir until softened about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomato paste. Cook and stir until the tomato paste begins to slightly brown. Add the drained beans; stir. Add in the salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf; stir in the chicken base, reserved ham stock along with 4 additional cups of either water, stock or broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours or until the beans are tender. The last 10 minutes of cooking, remove 2 cups of the soup and whirl it in a blender until creamy. Add back to the soup pot. Add the Liquid Smoke and pepper flakes or Cajun seasoning, if desired. Garnish with reserved bacon.

Add a sandwich or a nice mixed garden salad with a slice of cornbread. Pass hot sauce at the table.

Cook's Notes: I use Camellia brand navy beans; may also use northern beans. The stock may be made ahead and refrigerated, or shortcut the process by using a ham concentrate or base, such as Better Than Bouillon.


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Posted by on January 24, 2011
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