Friday, 11 March 2011

Bean & Bacon Soup

I was planning on posting my Bacon Dijon Potato Salad today but, on the request of my dear Mom, I'm posting this amazing soup. After making it the other night for supper I sent Brad over to my parents' house with a container of this soup to see if they'd like it as much as I did. It was a hit with my peeps over 60 too! My dad, after finishing the soup, asked if I provided free refills and sadly I do not (mainly because I hoarded the leftovers for my own lunch the next day!). It's good to keep them wanting more, isn't it?

This is a nicely spiced soup that's not too heavy. I love pairing beans and bacon together! The bacon flavour is not overpowering but you still get your hit of smoky taste without getting too much fat. I was inspired to make this soup based on a recipe that I found on allrecipes.com. I tweaked this soup more to our tastes (less spicy, different beans, added spinach and more bacon!!) so now I figure it's my own recipe. If you have picky eaters amongst you who may balk at the thought of eating spinach just chop it up finely and pass it off as 'seasonings'. The less picky eaters know the better.

You can also change up the beans you use. If you're more partial to black beans or prefer just kidney beans then go for it. I did like the addition of the chickpeas which were in the can of mixed beans that I used. You can also choose to puree the entire soup but I prefer seeing some veggies and beans in my soup.

This is a great soup to make on a cold winter day with a nice loaf of freshly (ie from the breadmaker) loaf of bread! With the way winter is hanging on this soup will come in handy!Enjoy!

8 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, dicedd
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 (19oz/540mL) can mixed beans (chick peas, dark red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, white kidney beans, romano beans and baby lima beans)
1 (19oz/540mL) can red kidney beans
1/2 cup baby spinach - stems removed and chopped

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set it on a plate covered with paper towels. Set aside. Drain the fat from the Dutch oven, leaving approximately 2 tbsp of the grease. Add the onions, carrots, red pepper and garlic to the pot. Saute in the bacon grease for 10 minutes.

Add the sugar, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, bay leaf, thyme and Worchestershire sauce to the vegetable mixture. Stir in a small amount of the chicken stock and deglaze the pot (ie scrape off all of the caramelized brown bits from the bottom of the pot. It's not gross, it's amazing flavour!!!).

Add the beans and the remaining chicken stock. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat or until the vegetables are tender.

Using a slotted spoon, remove several large scoops of beans and vegetables from the soup and set them in a bowl. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion hand blender (or transfer the remaining soup to a blender) puree the remaining soup in the pot. Return beans and vegetables to the pot. Add more seasoning, if necessary. Stir in the baby spinach and crumbled bacon. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Serve with fresh bread and a salad for a complete meal.

Recipe inspired by: allrecipes.com (Bean, Bacon & Pepper Soup)

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