Monday, February 11, 2013

Bean, Beef and Bacon soup

So over the weekend I was rummaging through the freezer and came across some odds and ends of old packets of bacon. Real Pork Bacon. Most of the time, I buy turkey bacon because it is better for us, and, honestly, I've never been much of a fan of pork in general, but, once in a while, we do buy the "real" stuff. Mostly it is when we're in chili making mood, as hubby needs it for his "Man Chilli," a recipe I will have to get from him and post one of these days, but is basically every kind of meat he can think of, lots of spice and NO beans.
But, back to today's recipe. So I have these left over bits of bacon languishing in the freezer. One packet was well and gone and had to be sacrificed to the gods of freezer burn, so I really wanted to do something with the rest of them before it was too late. I have lots of beans, and, well, beans and bacon is good. I had some left over ground beef. Beef and bacon are good together as well. Why not combine all three?!? And so, Been, beef and bacon soup is born. Not a whole lot of pictures today.

I put the beans out to soak last night. I did not take a picture of t his because.. well, soaking beans are boring.  Just put them in a bowl, cover well with water and keep an eye on them. If they swell up and break the surface of the water, add more water. Let sit overnight. I always drain, and replace the water at least once during the soak time. Once you are ready to start making your soup, drain and rinse and place into a pot, cover with water and simmer until they start to soften. I added  half an onion, chopped, to the beans while they cooked. Drain them yet again, and set aside.
For the record, I used Hurst's HamBeens brand 15 bean beef soup bean mix.The beans them selves are naturally gluten free. Here's what the company says about their spice mix:
All dry beans are a naturally gluten free product and every Hurst’s seasoning and spice blend is now 100% gluten free as well (Cajun used to be the exception). Our facility however is not specifically dedicated gluten free as we pack both barley and pasta as well. Please call us with any questions or concerns @ 1-800-HAMBEEN.
So you can use it, or not, as you feel comfortable doing. Today, I used it, but if you don't want to, you can certainly skip it, or use entirely different beans. If you opt to use canned beans, you can skip the soaking and bean cooking steps.
Now, you do have the option of doing this in a slow cooker as well. In which case you'd want to do all of this the night before so you could just assemble and let it do it's thing. I decided to do stove top today, since, honestly, I'm kind of making this up as I go.. which is usually how a lot of my day to day cooking goes.
While the beans are cooking away, you can do your prep for the next few steps. I chopped up about half a bunch of celery and 3 carrots.
Then I chopped up the bits of bacon. I had 2 partial packets, which, combined, gave me almost an entire packet of thick cut bacon. Use what you have or what you prefer. One of the packets was a steakhouse seasoned one which is going to effect some of my seasoning decisions that you might not have to work around.
Once the beans were done and drained, I placed the chopped bacon into the same pot and turned the heat up to medium. Once that was sizzling, I added about a pound of ground beef and let all of the meat combine and brown. Once the meat was done, I added 3 cups of beef broth, the chopped veggies (about 3 cups, combined) and then the beans, which I measured out to be 7 cups, cooked beans. I also tossed in a little corn, maybe a half tablespoon or so of garlic powder, a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce, a good shake of large grind pepper, about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (eyeballed) and a can of Italian diced tomatoes.
Cover and let simmer on low.
this is my taste testing bowl. it's really the only way to know how things are progressing.

It's probably not the world's best soup or anything, but it is hearty and tastes pretty darn good on a chill winter's day.  It is simple to make and odds are that most, if not all, of the ingredients are bound to be in most pantries.

1 20 oz bag of 15 bean soup, beef or ham flavored will do, or 20 oz dry beans, assorted, or about 7 c cooked/canned beans
3 cups beef broth
about 1 package of bacon, roughly chopped
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion
3 carrots, chopped
@2 cups celery, chopped
*veggies can be replaced with 3 cups or so frozen mixed*
1 can Italian diced tomatoes
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
garlic powder and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

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