Bean and Bacon Soup

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Did your father ever tell you that when “he was a kid, he walked 10 miles to school everyday, barefoot, in the snow”? My dad did, and I believed him for years. He was from Minnesota; they had snow there. We lived in LA—palm trees, no snow. How was I to know?

We grew up with hearty soups, even though in Los Angeles there was maybe one month a year when it really made sense to eat them.

Bean and Bacon Soup

So now, anytime it’s cool enough to wear socks, it’s soup weather as far as I’m concerned. Right?

Speaking of which, I’m always delighted by how good pork, in any form, and beans are together. This classic Bean and Bacon Soup is the brother to White Bean and Ham Soup, and is just as belly warming.

There’s just enough bacon to give the white bean soup plenty of flavor, but not so much as to weigh you down. We’ve puréed about half of the soup so that it is chunky, with a creamy based that comes from the beans. Enjoy!

Bean and Bacon Soup Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Bean soaking time: 8 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

In this recipe we are making the bean soup starting with dry beans that we soak overnight. If you don't have time to soak beans overnight, you can put the beans into a pot of water, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit for hour, and then drain. Pre-soaking the beans will help them cook faster.

If you would rather work with canned beans, use 3 to 4 15-ounce cans of drained white beans and cook them in step 3 for only 15 minutes, not an hour.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry Great Northern white beans, covered with a couple inches of water and soaked overnight
  • 5 ounces of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch wide pieces
  • 2 cups chopped onion (1 large onion)
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs of celery)
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (1 large carrot)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 ounce bacon (1 to 2 slices), cooked and crumbled for garnish (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Method

1 Drain the beans: Drain the beans that have been soaking in water. (If you haven't already soaked the beans, and you don't have time to do so overnight, you can put them in a large pot of water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let sit for an hour, then drain.)

2 Cook the bacon and vegetables: Put the bacon into a large (5 to 6 quart) thick-bottomed Dutch oven on medium high heat. Let the bacon cook for a minute or two to start rendering out some of its fat, then add the chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are completely cooked through and softened. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

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3 Add beans, stock, seasonings, simmer: Add the drained beans to the pot. Add the stock, the bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Increase heat to high to bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour or until the beans are very soft.

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4 Add tomato paste and paprika: Stir in the tomato paste and the paprika. Cook for 5 more minutes.

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5 Purée half the soup: Remove the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, purée most of the soup. You don't want the soup to be perfectly smooth, but you want to purée enough of it so that the beans create a creamy base.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with crumbled cooked bacon and chopped parsley to serve.

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Bean Bacon Soup

Showing 4 of 19 Comments

  • Laurel

    First rain of the season today in San Francisco and I just found a bag of white beans in my pantry then googled “delicious white beans recipe”. The search ends here. I don’t have an immersion blender but I think I need to get one.

  • Mark Leonard

    Hi Elise, plan on making this over the weekend since it looks like we’ll finally have soup weather in Sacramento! Noticed a small oversight in the instructions which might trip up new cooks, shouldn’t the bay leaves be removed before you puree the soup?

  • Emily

    Absolutely delicious. Your recipes never fail!

  • Debbie

    Made this last weekend. Followed the recipe without any changes and it was delicious! Thanks Elise!

  • Ann Norman

    Thank you for this recipe. It is good, yet I think I liked the flavor better without the tomato paste and paprika. I tasted the soup prior to stirring in the tomato paste and paprika and liked it. I think at that point it was a familiar flavor. Just a bit different for us with the tomato paste. However, we have a lot of leftovers and may get used to it by the time we finish eating them. This is do much easier than using a ham bone to make the soup! I will definitely make this again.

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