20 July 2009

Navy Bean and Bacon Soup

Last week I created a recipe for navy bean and bacon soup, mostly because I'd soaked the beans overnight and needed to cook them right away, before they sprouted or molded or whatever soaked beans do if they don't get cooked right away. As a result, this recipe is based on what I had on hand, which was pretty much bacon (beans are good with smoked pork), onions, and garlic.

Here's the recipe. I have to tell you that this is pretty rich and filling, with so much bacon in it.

Mary's Navy Bean and Bacon Soup
  • One pound of navy beans, picked over and soaked in cold water for at least eight hours, drained, and rinsed.
  • One pound of relatively lean premium thick-sliced bacon (hickory or apple wood smoked), sliced into half-inch strips, fried until crisp, and the fat drained off.
  • One large yellow onion, chopped and cooked in a small amount of bacon fat until soft and translucent
  • One head of garlic, peeled and each clove cut in half vertically, added to the cooking onions. Do not, whatever you do, let the garlic burn, as that makes it terribly bitter and nasty. Don’t worry if the garlic doesn’t do anything more than get warm in the pan. It'll get cooked completely with the beans.
  • Two bay leaves.
  • A rounded teaspoon of whole black peppercorns. Use less if you're not wild about black pepper.
  • Salt to taste.
Put everything but the salt into a pressure cooker, stir, add water to cover everything by an inch or so, bring to a boil, and process for nine or ten minutes. Allow to cool naturally (do not vent). If cooking on the stove top, instead of using a pressure cooker, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the beans are completely soft. Remove all the bay leaves (they stay whole and they'll be easy to see.) Whiz into a puree with a stick blender. Taste and add salt as desired, stirring thoroughly between additions.

This is pretty good right out of the pan, but it’s even better the next day. If you reheat it on the stove, keep an eye on it, as it’s a thick puree and will scorch easily.