I have been feeling like soups more these days and one of my favourites is this bacon and bean soup! There is just something magical about dried beans that have been soaked overnight and then slowly simmered in a soup until they are tender, creamy and oh so good! Pure comfort food! In addition to the beans this soup contains vegetables in the form of onions, celery, and carrots and it’s seasoned with garlic, thyme, bay leaves, parmesan cheese and of course, plenty of bacon! This soup is great either with the chunky veggies and beans in a broth or where everything is pureed into a thick and creamy soup topped with the crispy bacon!
Because of the long simmer time, this soup is perfect for the slow cooker and there are plenty of options to customize the soup to the way you want it! I sometimes like to change the flavours up by replacing the thyme with rosemary or sage, and/or change the cheese, add tomatoes, paprika, cream, miso, etc. No matter how you make this soup, it’s sure to please!
Bacon and Bean Soup
A simple and amazingly tasty bacon and bean soup.
- 1 pound great white northern beans, picked over, rinsed and soaked overnight
- 8 ounces bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup carrot, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 2 teaspoons thyme, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese), grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped (optional)
- Cook the bacon in a large saucepan until crispy, before setting aside on paper towels to drain, and draining all but 2 tablespoons of the grease from the pan.
- Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook over medium heat until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add half a cup of the broth and deglaze the pan by scraping up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon as the broth simmers.
- Add the remaining broth along with the beans, thyme, bay leaf, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the beans are tender, about 1.5-2 hours.
- Remove the bay leaves, add the parmesan and cook until it melts.
- Add the bacon and season with salt and pepper to taste before adding the parsley.
Option: For a quick and easy version, replace the dry beans with 3 (15 ounce) canes of white beans, rinsed and drained. You will only need to simmer for a few minutes!
Option: Replace the thyme with rosemary!
Option: Replace the parmesan with asiago or pecorino cheese!
Option: Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste! Or 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes!
Option: Add 1 teaspoon paprika!
Option: Add cream!
Option: Add 1 tablespoon white miso at the end before removing from heat!
Option: Puree some or all of the beans before adding the bacon for a thick and creamy soup!