Saturday, March 1, 2014

Creamy White Bean Stew

It is beginning to warm up in Vegas, but I know in other parts of the country it's still pretty cold and snowy.  To me, when it's cold and you are hunkered down inside, nothing warms you (and the house) better than a hearty soup or stew.  I love soups!  I always have.  I could eat them all the time, however I'm fairly certain that my hubby would get tired of them. 
It had been a while since I had a good bean soup and the hubs isn't the biggest fan of beans, unless it's baked beans.  Haha!  When he was gone for while I decided to try a new bean soup recipe I had found.  Creamy White Bean Stew...  and the second main ingredient was BACON!  How could that not be good?!  I told the kids we were having bacon soup and they bought it and ate it.  No one asked for seconds, but it was at least consumed on the night of dinner and left plenty of left-overs for me.  :)  This recipe was super easy, loaded with veggies, canned beans (which makes everything easier yet) and, of course, flavored with bacon.  YUM to the 10th power!  I made cornbread to go with this and it was a delicious combo!  Tell me what you think.  What's your favorite bean soup?

12 ounces apple smoked bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, small dice
2 carrots, small dice
2 celery stalks, small dice
4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• Pinch or two sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
6 (15 ounce) cans small white beans (or navy beans), drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken stock, hot
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest (I omitted)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (I omitted)

-Place a large Dutch oven, or heavy bottom pot, over medium-high heat; once the pot is hot, add in a small drizzle of olive oil, and the chopped bacon; crisp the bacon completely until nice and brown, then remove with a slotted spoon, drain it on some paper towel, and set it aside for a moment; reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, and set that aside for a moment, as well; wipe out the pot, and return it to medium-high heat.
-Next, add back into the pot the bacon fat, along with the olive oil and the butter, and allow them to melt together; once melted and hot, add in the diced onion, carrots and celery, and allow them to soften and saut√© for about 5 minutes; next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in about 2/3 of the reserved, crisped bacon, as well as the Italian seasoning, the sea salt and the pepper, along with the white beans, and stir to combine; next, add in the hot chicken stock, stir, and allow the stew to gently simmer for about 40-45 minutes, partially covered with lid; about half way through the cooking process, mash the beans a little bit with the  back of your spoon, or with a potato masher, to break up the beans a little bit and release their natural starch to thicken the stew; after about 40 minutes, turn the heat off and finish the stew by adding in the chopped parsley, the lemon zest and the lemon juice; serve the stew with some nice, crusty bread to dip, and garnish with some of the remaining crisped bacon.


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