Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Smokey Bean Soup with Ham & Bacon

Mmmm!!!  Seriously.  This is one of my most favorite soups!  I look forward to the one time a year that I make this.  Usually when the seasons are starting to change.  I make it mostly for me, though.  No one else in the house seems to like it.  It's ok.  I don't mind eating it all to myself. :) I'd have to say too that eating this soup with croutons is almost a must.  It's a very tasty addition.  If you want to get even crazier, make your own croutons and season with smoked paprika and salt and pepper. To make legume-free, omit the beans and add more potatoes. 

Smokey Bean Soup with Ham & Bacon

6 slices bacon
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic
2 cups diced ham
2 red potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces (about 2-2 1/2 cups)
2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1 32 oz carton chicken broth
1/2 tsp liquid smoke, if you have it
Croutons for garnish  

Cut bacon into bite size pieces.  Place in a large stock pot and cook until crisp.  Remove bacon and spread on paper towels to drain.  Pour off all but a couple teaspoons of bacon drippings from pan.  Saute diced onion and garlic in bacon drippings for about 2 minutes.  Stir in diced ham, beans, smoked paprika and salt and pepper.  Pour in broth and add potatoes.  Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat and stir in most of the reserved bacon pieces, saving a few for garnish.  Pour 3 cups of soup into a blender.  Take the plug out of the lid to let the steam escape, but cover with a paper towel to avoid splashes.  Blend until smooth.  Add blended soup back to the pot and stir to combine.  Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed and add liquid smoke if using.  Ladle soup into individual soup bowls.  Top with croutons and garnish with extra bacon.  Yield 6-8 servings

*To make homemade croutons:  
2 cups day-old bread cubes
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp or more if you want, smoked paprika
Kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cube day-old pieces of bread and place in a bowl. Melt some butter in a microwave safe dish.  Stir in spices, if using, like smoked paprika to make croutons for this soup, and some oil.  Drizzle butter over croutons, tossing to evenly coat the bread cubes.  You may want to use your hands to help evenly distribute the seasonings.  Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, tossing every few minutes until croutons are nicely toasted.

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