Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Italian Bean and Bacon Soup

I have an addiction to cookbooks.  I love trying new things.  I like to push myself out of my comfort zone - just a little.

This time of year I tend to do a lot of crock pot or pressure cooker cooking .  I love the smells that both evoke, although I am probably more partial to the crock pot because I can start it in the morning - run out and do my volunteer work and come home to not only a hot meal but a home that smells like my personal chef had been working all day !! (well a girl can dream...)

This recipe was perfect for a blustery day - yes we do have a few of those in sunny California!!
I really like the "Eat More of What You Have " cookbook by Marlene Koch.  I will be cooking more and more of her recipes as time goes on. I am really trying to cook and eat healthier.Some days that task is easier to accomplish than others...She also has another one called "Eat More of What You Love".  I have tons of recipes earmarked so stay tuned.  She uses Splenda in her recipes requiring sugar, but I plan to use Truvia as I like it  better, so we will see how that works!!
 


ITALIAN BEAN AND BACON SOUP

1/2 pound dry Great Northern or small white navy beans
*3 slices center cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1 " pieces (I used hickory smoked bacon)
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth ( I doubled it to 8 cups - it was too thick without it!)
1/2 cup heaping pearl barley (probably heaping the 1/2 cup is what soaked up all of my broth!)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary. plus 1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
** Borsari seasoning to taste
***8 cups loosely packed, stemmed Swiss Chard leaves, chopped

*I cooked double the bacon called for to use for garnish and cooked it crunchier - YUM
**This is from King Arthur.  It is a wondrous blend of sea salt, kosher salt, fresh garlic, fresh basil, fresh rosemary,  black pepper, and nutmeg.
***I used a combination of 6 cups baby spinach leaves and 2 cups Swiss Chard

1.  Pick over the beans, rinse, soak overnight, and drain.

2.  In a small skillet or the Ninja Cooking System, cook  the bacon over medium heat, stirring often for two minutes, just until the fat starts to melt..  Add the onion and garlic, stirring often and reducing the heat, if necessary, for 3-4 minutes or until the bacon is lightly crisp and the garlic is fragrant and turning golden at the edges.  At this point it will smell sooooo good!

3.  Add the carrots, celery, chicken broth, 2 1/2 cups water, barley, rosemary sprigs, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for 6-7 hours or until the chard is tender.

4.  Remove the rosemary stems.  Add the chard and/or spinach leaves (discard chard stems) and chopped rosemary.  Cover and cook about 45 minutes more or until the chard is tender.
 
Adapted from from "Eat More of What You Love" by Marlene Koch

 This was relatively healthy (if you ignore the bacon - but why would you?!?) - and was quite filling.  I added a little Parmesan cheese on top as I love cheese melting and gooey on the top of hot soup!!

I guess I need to redefine "healthy"! Pin It Now!

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I am a mother to three and Grammy to two beautiful granddaughters and one very handsome little grandson.  Was born and raised in southern California and am happy to call it home.  I fill my days with volunteer work, paper crafting, needlework of all kinds and cooking and baking.   I am blessed with wonderful family and friends who fill my heart on a daily basis.