I don’t always make bean soup, but I keep acquiring dried beans, so I decided to prioritize them this year. You can grow beans that are specifically for drying and shelling, or just let your regular beans grow out. These particular beans were salvaged from a row of Kentucky Blue green beans I let go a few years ago. Shelling them is a real pain, but it’s kind of rewarding to actually make something delicious out of something that was un-intended and home-grown.
And so, here we are at the white bean and bacon soup post. Usually I throw a leftover Christmas ham bone in the pot while the beans cook, but we didn’t have a ham this year so I thought maybe something more bacon-y was in order. This turned out creamy and very flavorful, with just the right amount of smokey bacon-ness. I think any bean would be fine in this recipe, but the white ones seem to have less of their own flavor, so they can be paired with anything. You can use dry or canned, but the dried will have a better flavor (and cost less).
- 2 cups dried (or canned) white/cannelloni beans
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
- 2-3 large carrots, chopped
- 1/2 pound bacon
- 4-5 cups chicken or veggie stock
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Soak the beans in 4 quarts of warm water overnight to soften them up. When you wake up, drain and rinse, then set aside until you are ready to assemble the soup.
Heat up a large frying pan to medium high and fry up all that bacon. It should be crispy, but not burned. The goal is to render as much of that fat as you can so it won’t be chewy in your soup. Drain it on a paper towel, then chop into medium size pieces. Set it aside and try to not to eat it while you’re cooking.
Keep that frying pan, and the fat – but reduce the heat to medium. Add your chopped onions with a pinch of salt and saute for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the chopped rosemary and saute for another 2-3 minutes. This mix will be kind of messy looking because of the bacon bitlets, but it should be fine when it’s all mixed up with the beans.
Add your beans and the onion mix to a large saucepan or a bean pot (if you have one). Add the veggie or chicken stock and bring up to a boil. NOTE: don’t add salt at this point because it might make the skins of your beans a little chewy. There is already plenty of salt from the bacon, you don’t want to make it worse.
Turn the heat down to low, cover and let it boil for about 45 minutes. If you want your soup kind of creamy, you can take the back of your spoon and mash the equivalent of about 1 cup of beans against the side of the pot. Add your carrots, stir in, cover and simmer another 15 minutes.
Now, you can add your bacon to the soup and stir it in, or you can crumble it on top of each serving for a little flair. I split the difference and added 3/4 of it to the pot, then sprinkled a few bits on top for show.
This soup keeps well and freezes even better. Pop a few servings in the freezer for snowy days or work lunches.