Monday, December 21, 2015

Fast and Easy Bean Soup

You can certainly tell Winter is in the air.  And what better time to make a hearty bean soup. 

Of course, being busy with Christmas I didn't think about dinner until it was time to eat.
OK, I have a half an hour to get dinner on the table.  What can I make that is quick and fast?
Yep, bean soup.  No you don't need to soak beans all night or cook this one on the stove for hours on end. (Even though it tastes like you spent hours on it.)

Just go raid your pantry for some canned beans and broth, dice an onion, and fry some bacon to get started.

We are mostly vegetarians in this house by choice but every once in awhile I will cook a little bacon.
Seems that is my one weakness.  I can go forever without eating most meat until I just have to have my bacon fix. Like some people crave chocolate.  For me it is bacon.

This recipe takes little prep and comes together quickly, piping hot and ready to serve in about a half hour.  And while it is simmering on the stove you have time to heat some crusty bread and toss a little lettuce in a bowl for a quick and tasty meal.

Best of all in my house their are leftovers for tomorrow night.  And of course the flavors will be even better the by then.

Yummy Fast Bean Soup

Here is what you will need.

4 pieces bacon, finely diced

1 small onion, peeled and diced

5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

8 cups Chicken broth

4 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained or
2(15 ounce) cans cannellini beans and 2(15 ounce pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 bay leaf

1 large sprig fresh rosemary

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup dry instant potato flakes, optional

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, Italian bread (optional)

  • Heat bacon in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Cook until crispy, stirring occasionally.
    Transfer  for bacon to a separate plate, using a slotted spoon.  Reserve about 3 tablespoon of bacon
    grease in the stockpot.  (Discard any extra grease, or you can substitute olive oil in place of the 3 tablespoons of bacon grease.)

    Add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.

    Add garlic and cooker 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally.

    add chicken stock, beans, bay leaf, rosemary, and half of the cooked bacon.  Stir to combine.

    Continue cooking the soup until it reaches a simmer.  Then reduce the heat to medium-low,  cover partially, and let the  soup simmer for 10-20 minutes to that the flavors blend together.

    Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the potato flakes to thicken, if desired. Use 1/4 cup and test for thickening add more it needed.
    Remove bay leaf and rosemary.

    Serve warm, topped with extra bacon.  Garnish with Parmesan and serve with Italian bread and a green salad, if desired.

     I always keep an assortment of canned beans in my pantry for a quick bean salad or soup.

    We like our soup a little bit thicker, so a I add a small amount of dried instant potato flakes at the end of cooking to give almost any soup a little bit of a thicker consistency.

    . .

    Bay Tree

    I have a Rosemary bush growing in my yard and also a small Bay Tree. I love being able to go outside and pick my herbs as I need them.  So much tastier than the dried versions.  And most herbs can be grown in pots all year long if you bring them in during the winter months in colder regions.  I like to keep pots on my kitchen window sill during the colder months.  

    I have all sorts of herbs and medicinal plants growing from Rosemary, Bay and Thyme for cooking to Lambs Ears for cuts to name just a few.  

     I have a Curly willow tree for cut bouquets and the leaves and stems can be crushed to make a growing tea for rooting other plants.

    There are so many helpful plants we can grow in our own yards.  Somehow the knowledge our forefathers had of how to live off nature has been lost over time. I enjoy studying local plants for their  nutritional and medicinal properties.  Many are more helpful than today's modern medicines.

    As an example, every Spring we go into the hills in search of Miner's lettuce.  It tastes like a cross between lettuce and spinach.  I will pick a huge bag of the leaves and we have this wonderful salad all week. During the gold rush of 1849 the miner's ate this wonderful plant that is packed with Vitamin C to stay healthy.  It makes the best salad.  I have also read that some of the high end restaurants are growing this wonderful plant for their kitchens.

    When I was younger we lived at about 2000 ft. elevation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and in the summer I would go out and pick the wild greens every night to make the tastiest meals. 

     I truly believe we need to look back at nature to improve our living and health in today's world. 

    Happy Cooking! 

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