Without claiming any soup as my favorite or my “go-to,” I had a difficult time choosing a variety to share on C&L to celebrate the changing of the seasons. I asked my mom what Louise would have made, and she told me about a great bean soup she used to always fix. When I asked for the recipe I wasn't surprised when my mom told me that Louise didn’t have one, she just threw it together every time. (Like most great soups.)
When it comes to soup, I’m not really a recipe girl either. There are times when recipes are important (baking especially) and other times when the list of nonnegotiable rules are slim to none. As far as soup making is concerned, there are only a few basic rules & the rest feels a lot like freedom.
- Sauté your vegetables
- Cook your meat
- Add your liquid base & spices
After you’ve decided what flavors are essential to your soup of choice, it’s a series of slicing, stirring, sautéing, and salting. (And the reminder that, you’re in control — it’s just soup, you can’t mess this up!)
Soup has the magical ability to bend and stretch. Scraps from your fridge or pantry and entire leftover meals can be turned into a seemingly impressive pot of soup that has the power to feed a whole crowd, or yourself for several days on end.
Soup is also one of my favorite tell tale signs of autumn. In my world, the first pot of soup signifies the changing of the seasons and a celebration of many more soup-centered meals to come. Use this bean soup recipe as a loose guide. Intuition wins out when it comes to soup making — your wild idea to add in potatoes, double the stock, or throw in extra spices is fully supported and even encouraged in my book (and on this blog).
So when it comes to soup, toss aside the recipe cards — pull out a blank one and write your own.
Click here for the downloadable text version of this recipe!
- Rinse off the beans and put them in a pot and cover them with water by two inches. Let them soak overnight.
- Drain the beans and place them back into the pot. Add the chicken stock and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- While the beans are cooking, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until just barely crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. When the bacon has cooled, crumble into bite-sized pieces and add 2/3 of the bacon to the beans and reserve the rest for garnish.
- Drain the bacon grease from the pan and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Season them with some salt and pepper and cook until just beginning to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for another minute or two.
- Add the vegetables to the beans. Add the bay leaves and stir.
- Cover and cook on low (to medium-low) until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add a cup of broth if the liquid level gets too low.
- When ready to serve, taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.