Autumn is perfect soup weather. The hot and humid summer days have fallen off to cool nights and breezy , sunny, but cooler, days. Colored leaves are swirling to the ground. Just cold enough so I need something to take the chill off when I come inside. Soups, stew and other comfort foods just fit the bill perfectly.
I still have some kale growing in the garden, and today that is my inspiration. Upon closer inspection though, the local doe and offspring have jumped the fence and munched off all the largest leaves (swiss chard too,…sigh.). So plan B, frozen spinach.
As with most of my other comfort foods, there is no real recipe, I just work with what I have. Any leafy greens will work – kale, swiss chard, spinach, maybe even turnip or beet greens, or cooked collards. Don’t have any white (cannelloni) beans? Use pinto or pink beans or even garbanzos. Leeks in place of onions. It’s a good excuse to use up a bunch of bacon that might be getting old, or to splurge with some pancetta. Or maybe sausage. Even left over ham will work. Or maybe vegetarian, no meat. You get the idea.
I use a cast iron dutch oven, as I tend to make at least 3 quarts of soup at a time for the week. Feel free to use smaller amounts to make only one meal of soup.
Bacon, Spinach and White Bean Soup
1 tbsp butter or oil
1 onions, chopped
4-5 slices of bacon (even half a pound if you like!) or pancetta, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
1 quart/box of chicken stock
1 10 oz box of frozen spinach, or 3-4 cups fresh spinach or kale or swiss chard
2 cans of white beans, rinsed (in my case about 3 cups from my freezer, because I cooked up a pound of dried white beans not long ago)
Saute the onion in the butter for a few minutes until translucent, then add in the garlic. Do not brown or burn the garlic. Then remove it and fry up the bacon or pancetta. Drain off any bacon fat (mine goes in my jar in the fridge to use when frying something like potatoes).
Add the onion mix back in, and add the frozen or fresh greens – saute to wilt fresh greens or to make sure frozen veggies are completely warmed through. Stir in the beans. Add chicken stock, and enough water to cover everything well.
Since the beans are already cooked, really all you need to do is warm it all up. Season to taste.
Bacon will already have salt, but the ham or pancetta may not. Pepper of course. Even some herbs – parsley, dried basil, sage, or even dill. Want a bit of a kick? Dried chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce.
If you would like a thicker or creamy type of soup, mash up more white beans and stir in to thicken.
Tell me how you dressed it up, swapped it out or make it straight like this!