This bean and bacon soup starts with one pound of dry northern beans “brought to life” with a few simple steps to give them their fullest flavor. When it’s time to start the soup, a few strips of bacon are cooked until crispy and the chopped onions, garlic, and fresh herbs are sautéed in the drippings. The wonderful smoky bacon flavor is ready to be savored in every delicious spoonful.
Great northern beans are white, medium-sized beans with a thin skin and a mild, delicate flavor.
As a member of the legume family, they are dense in many nutrients known to strengthen the body's defenses against heart disease, cancer, and obesity.
Space shuttle launch teams had a had a tradition of celebrating successful liftoffs with a meal of great northern beans and cornbread. Do you have your own “liftoff” you would like to celebrate? Why not make this soup to celebrate the completion of your own big project. Start your own tradition and have fun!
1 pound of great northern beans
6 strips of thin bacon
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped; discard stems
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped; discard stems
7 cups chicken stock - homemade preferred (chicken stock recipe)
1. Sort - Carefully sort through your beans looking for and discarding fragments of stone and broken, discolored, or shriveled beans. As beans are a natural food, be aware that on occasion small pebbles or other debris can slip through the sorting process.
2. Rinse - Place beans in a colander or strainer and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
3. Salt bath - In a large pot, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts of cold water; add beans.
4. Soak - To quick-soak the beans: boil for 2 minutes, remove pot from heat, and allow beans to soak in this salt bath for 1 hour.
Pour soaked beans into a colander or strainer to drain, then rinse under cold water.
Or if you prefer you can soak the beans overnight in the salt water; drain and rinse.
5. Cook bacon - In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy on both sides. Remove bacon and place on a paper towel to drain.
6. Sauté - Add onion to the bacon drippings; sauté over medium heat until they begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary, and thyme; cook about 1 minute.
7. Simmer - Add the chicken stock and soaked beans. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1-1/2 hours or until beans are tender.
8. Purée - Remove half of the beans and set to the side. With an immersion blender, purée the remaining beans directly in the pot.
Stir in the remaining whole beans to the pot and simmer for 5 more minutes.
9. Serve - Ladle your smoky bean and bacon soup into bowls and garnish each serving with bacon.