Soak Beans Overnight or Use One-Hour Method Cook Beans 40 mins Soup Prep 5 mins Cook 55 mins Eat 60 mins + Bean Cooking Time
I remember eating hot Campbell’s tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold Minnesota winter day when I was growing up. We’d add milk instead of water to the soup can to make it more creamy. That was comfort food when I was ten years old. This grown-up White Bean, Bacon and Tomato Soup pushes comfort food to a whole new level. It can be made with either bacon, or if you’re lucky enough to have one left from the holidays, a ham bone. There’s no question that this tomato soup is more delicious and more complex from the tomato soup of my childhood. The beans, which add nutrition and fiber, and the bacon kick it up a notch. The earthiness of the beans melting into the tomato-ey broth mellows it out and the smokiness from the bacon or ham bone adds another layer of flavor. Serve this grown-up White Bean, Bacon and Tomato Soup with a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich on fresh-made whole wheat bread and you will be transported. So let’s get started. To make this soup Fresh Food in a Flash style, plan ahead.
To save time, cook your beans the day or several days before, while you are busy with other projects at home. Cooking dried beans is super easy. First, revive them by soaking them in water. You can do this overnight or you can bring the pot of beans with water to a boil, cover them and let them sit for an hour.
After soaking the beans, cook them with water, parsley stems, thyme and bay leaves. Let them cook until tender, about 40 minutes, then drain. You can cook the beans in advance and refrigerate OR you could just open up about 3-4 cans of drained white beans for making the soup below.
While beans are cooking, add the smoky flavor you are going to love in this soup. Cook the bacon and then cook the onions in the bacon fat OR if you are lucky enough to have a ham bone, throw that in with the diced onion and the fat rendered from the bone will surround your onions with smoky goodness.
After about 5-10 minutes, the onions will look translucent. Time to add the garlic first, then the chicken stock, tomatoes and some thyme leaves. Stir it all together.
The beans and the bacon bits (or ham bone) join the party and it’s beginning to look like soup. Just sit back and stir occasionally while all the flavors meld together.
After simmering for about 40 minutes, the White Bean, Bacon and Tomato Soup is ready. The beans have melted into the tomato-ey broth and you are about to feel the goodness that is about to warm your tummy. Serve it up with a Fresh Food in a Flash style grilled cheese sandwich with Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese and our Quick and Easy Whole Wheat Bread and you may feel like you are ten years old again.
White Bean, Bacon and Tomato Soup
1 pound white beans
6 parsley stems
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
4 strips bacon
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 Tablespoon+ fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley or mint
1. Revive dried beans by soaking them overnight with 4 quarts of water in a soup pot OR heat to boiling, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let stand for one hour.
2. Drain and rinse beans. Put them back in the pot and add 4 quarts of water. Add parsley stems, thyme and bay leaves. Bring pot to a boil, then turn to low and simmer until beans are tender, about 40 minutes. The beans can be made in advance and should remain in the cooking liquid until used. Drain the beans and discard the parsley, thyme and bay leaves.
3. While beans are cooking, slice bacon into 1/4″ slices. Add bacon to another large pot and cook on medium high until crisp and golden. Remove cooked bacon to paper towels and when cool, crumble into bacon bits. Cook onions in remaining bacon grease until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove excess grease, add minced garlic and let cook for a minute. Then add tomatoes, stock, 2/3 of bacon bits and cooked beans. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low and let simmer with the cover on. Continue to cook until the beans begin to melt into the tomato mixture, but are still whole, about 30 more minutes or until it has thickened from the beans.
4. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish the soup with fresh herbs and remaining bacon bits.
Servings: 8 – 439 calories per serving