My father is a diehard carnivore. If there’s no meat, he ain’t interested. That’s all fine and dandy, but being a vegetarian, I run into issues when I’m the one making dinner. My mother’s perfectly okay with not having meat in the meal, but my dad…not so much. So I often wind up working my cooking nights around when I know he’ll be out for dinner, or I just cook as I please and my mother might make some form of meat to go with what I cook.
Sometimes though, I can figure out a way to make a dish so that it suits me and my meat-eating father. Take this Italian Bean and Bacon Soup for example. I know; you’re thinking that soup can’t be suitable for me when it’s got bacon. But lucky for me, the bacon is a completely optional addition. So, my dad can have his meat-tastic soup, and I can have mine meat-free. Everyone’s happy!
We can even please my healthy-eating mother because this hearty soup is good for you too. Enjoy a whole heaping cup for about 100 calories! I know; this soup is blowing your mind today. But can something that light in calories be heavy in flavor and heartiness too? You bet your bacon, it can!
How’s that possible? We use filling, nutritious ingredients that are rich in flavor like carrots, celery, and Swiss chard. Then, we really bulk things up with beans, the king of protein, and a little bit of barely too. Plus, if you’re a meat freak like my dad, you can have that crispy bacon for even more protein power. I know you meat eaters like your bacon, and understandably so. It’s a great addition to a great soup.
With or without the bacon, you can get cozy with a bowl of this savory steaming soup. It’s comforting, filling, and crowd-pleasing. When a meal is something both me and my father will eat, you know you’ve got something good.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- I had trouble finding Swiss chard, but you can switch it out for kale instead.
- My father accidentally discovered that brown rice is a great addition to the soup when he mistakenly ate the rice I made for veggie burgers, thinking it was for the soup.
- A little bit of grated parmesan would be lovely on top.
- Soup is a great weeknight meal because it’s easy and feeds an army.
- If you don’t use fresh herbs, you’re a darn fool. Your foods will constantly be mediocre if you only use dried stuff.
- If you’re making this with the Great Northern beans, you must soak the beans overnight so PLAN AHEAD.
Italian Bean (and Bacon) Soup
Slightly adapted from Eat More of What You Love
- 1 ¼ cups cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
- Optional: 2 slices centercut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled & sliced ¼-inch thick
- 2 medium celery stalks, sliced ¼-inch thick
- 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- ½ cup pearl barley
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tsp. chopped rosemary, divided
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 8 cups stemmed Swiss chard leaves or kale
- If using bacon: In a small skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring often until brown and crisp, about 6 minutes.
- Pour everything but the bacon plus 2 1/2 cups water into a large pot over medium-low heat. Cover and let simmer until beans are tender and greens are wilted, about 1 hour.
- Remove rosemary sprigs. Add bacon and enjoy.