07 Mar 2010 Bean and Bacon SoupFood Glorious Food, Recipes | Elizabeth Loupas
Today is a dreary, rainy day, and what could be nicer on a rainy Sunday than homemade bean and bacon soup?
Read the other day in Cook’s Illustrated—one of my very favorite magazines—that rather than just soak beans, one should brine them. Yes, I know, our mothers all taught us not to salt beans before cooking them. But Cook’s did all kinds of tests and determined that soaking overnight in salted water (two teaspoons of salt per quart of water) yields better-seasoned and more evenly cooked beans in the end. So we shall see! I put my pound of great northern beans in brine last night and later today will make my soup.
As for the soup recipe itself, well, it’s never quite the same. Take some nice lean bacon and cook it crisp. Drain it and put it aside; discard most but not quite all of the bacon fat; in the remaining bacon fat sizzle up some chopped veggies, onions and celery and carrots and whatever else you like. Then add the brined beans (drained and rinsed), enough water or chicken or veggie stock to cover it all, and simmer for a couple of hours.
When the beans are tender, whizz the soup with an immersion blender (or puree about half of it in a regular blender), add more stock if it’s too thick, add some greens (I like spinach) and continue to simmer just long enough to wilt them down. Then add back in the crumbled crisp bacon, adjust the seasonings, and serve. Heavenly, and despite the bacon, very healthy. The trick is to use a smallish amount of bacon and discard most of the bacon fat. It only takes a teeny bit to produce wonderful bacon flavor.