Did a parent ever tell you that when they were a kid, they walked 10 miles to school every day, barefoot, in the snow?
My dad did, and I believed him for years. He was from Minnesota; they had snow there. We lived in Los Angeles—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.
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 white 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 pureed about half of the soup so that it is chunky, with a creamy base that comes from the beans. Enjoy!
The Salt Question With Bean and Bacon Soup
The salt content of this soup will vary based on the saltiness of the bacon and the stock used. Taste for salt at different points. You'll add salt in Step 3, but be sure to taste the soup again in Step 5, so you can adjust with more salt if needed.
If you're concerned that the soup will be too salty, start with salt-free stock. You'll need to taste along the way and add more salt than if you started with salted stock, but you'll be able to control the sodium level more carefully.
White Bean and Bacon Soup With No Bacon?
Omitting the bacon in this soup will create a different recipe, but some commenters have used these substitutes for the bacon with success:
- Use smoked turkey instead of bacon.
- Use small pieces of diced ham instead of bacon.
- Use smoked pork belly instead of bacon.
- Use crisp bacon as a topping instead of adding it to the soup, adding a little bacon flavor without as much bacon (and fat) as the original.
- Make it vegan: Use vegan stock, 2 packs of tempeh, smoked paprika, and mesquite liquid smoke to give it smokiness without the bacon.
How to Store White Bean and Bacon Soup
Refrigerate covered soup for up to four days. (The soup will probably taste even better after sitting for one day.)
Freeze cooled soup in a freezer-safe zipper bag or container for up to three months.
5 More Hearty Soups for Cold Weather
- Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup
- Mom's Turkey Soup
- Chicken Mulligatawny Soup
- Minestrone Soup
- Parsnip Soup With Leaks
White Bean Soup With Bacon
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 an hour, and then drain. Presoaking the beans will help them cook faster.
If you would rather work with canned beans, use three to four (15-ounce) cans of drained white beans and cook them in Step 3 for only 15 minutes, not an hour.
For the Soup:
1 pound dry Great Northern white beans, covered with a couple inches of water and soaked overnight
5 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
2 ribs celery, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped (3/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
6 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 ounce bacon (1 to 2 slices), cooked and crumbled for garnish, optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- Immersion blender
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.)
Cook the bacon and the 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 carrot.
Lower the heat to low, cover, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are completely cooked through and softened. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
Add the beans, stock, seasonings, then simmer:
Add the drained beans to the pot. Add the stock, the bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Increase the 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.
Add the tomato paste and paprika:
Stir in the tomato paste and the paprika. Cook for 5 more minutes.
Puree half the soup:
Remove the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree most of the soup. You don't want the soup to be perfectly smooth, but you want to puree 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 (optional) to serve.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||12%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||15%|
|Total Carbohydrate 51g||19%|
|Dietary Fiber 13g||48%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 9mg||47%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|