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Paintbrush 2

Many of my friends across the country are posting about snow and temps in the negatives, so they think we are wusses in California when we complain about our lows in the forties.  I know we have nothing to complain about, but many of our houses are over one hundred years old and have no insulation, so even if we have heat it is impossible to keep them warm.  Are we alone in this?

I was so cold last week that I was very thankful for my frozen Sweet Potato, Red Lentil, & Butternut Squash Soup.  It warmed me up so well that I thought I should make another soup.

This soup is from 2009 Food & Wine annual cookbook.  This is my favorite cookbook to read late at night when I can’t sleep or need to pick up new techniques.  It is a very thorough cookbook with recipes from appetizers to desserts and includes a wine pairing guide.  My favorite is the quotes and recommendations from the chefs.

I personalized this recipe by using canned beans, added bacon to the broth in addition to serving with bacon bits, and made dijon mustard croutons to serve on top.  The croutons were a very nice addition!  They added comfort and enhanced the flavor.  I love how they would get soggy and maintain their crunch at the same time.

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White Bean & Bacon Soup with Bacon Bits (adapted from Chef Jose Garces’ caldo gallego recipe that he serves at his Philadelphia tapas Bar, Amada)

Active: 30 Min; Total: 1 hour, 6 servings

  • 1 lb (min) apple wood smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips
  • 2 Tbs expeller pressed canola oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium organic carrots, preferably multi colored, finely diced
  • 4 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 cans Organic Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Line two plates with paper towels.  In a large pan, cook the bacon strips over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown.  With a slotted spoon, transfer half to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Continue to cook the remaining until browned and crisp.  Carefully pour the hot bacon fat into a heatproof container and set it aside.  Reserve at least 1 Tbs of bacon fat.
  2. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat until it flows freely.  Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 1 minute.  Add the garlic and incorporate.  Stir in the carrots until well incorporated, followed by the celery about 1 minute later.  Add the thyme leaves and rosemary and turn heat to low.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a soup pan.  Add the vegetables, canned beans, and first half of the cooked bacon and 1 Tbs of the reserved bacon fat (optional) and bring the soup back to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or refrigerate until ready to serve and then reheat to a boil.
  4. Garnish the soup with the bacon bits and dijon mustard croutons (recipe following).

Dijon Mustard Croutons (adapted from Small Plates and Sweet Treats)

Active: 5 min.; Total 25 min.

  • 4 cups cubed baguette
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 1/2 tsp whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Combine the olive oil, mustard and thyme leaves in a medium bowl.  Add in the cubed baquette until fully mixed.
  3. Spread onto a baking sheet and drizzle with additional olive oil.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, turning once, until browned and crisp.
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