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Maryland Bean Soup w/Bacon

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1 pound dry Great Northern beans or navy beans
1 lb meaty bacon, cut into 1/2” pieces
6 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 24-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
Salt & pepper
(1) Clean beans of stones, rinse well, and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches; soak overnight or for at least 4 hours
(2) Fry bacon till just crisp in the soup pot
(3) Remove bacon and set aside; leave grease in the pot
(4) Add the diced veggies to the pot and sauté in the hot grease
(5) Drain the beans and add to the pot
(6) Add the broth and enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch and stir
(7) Add the bay leaf and push it down into the beans
(😎 Bring to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer and cover; stir and add liquid as needed while cooking
(9) After 2 hours, add the tomatoes and 3/4 of the bacon (reserving the rest to top each bowl), add salt and pepper to taste
(10) Stir well, adjust liquid, cover and cook 30 minutes
(11) Check beans for tenderness. If beans are still tough, continue cooking until tender, checking for doneness and adjusting liquid every 30 minutes (Great Northern beans will take longer than navy beans)
(12) If you prefer a thick soup, remove half the beans to a bowl when done, mash them and return to the pot. Mix well to thicken the soup
(13) Serve in bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon
* If you can’t find bacon that is more meat than fat, trim away the fattiest part of what you buy.
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