Claudia brought in a cookbook today from the library, "Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook". There were SO many things that looked amazing that I think I have to buy this book. One recipe really caught my eye though and it wasn't for a sweet. Of course, it has bacon in it, so go figure...
White Bean Soup with Bacon
1 1/2 cups dried white beans, such as cannellini or navy, soaked overnight in cold water
3 Tbs olive oil
4 celery ribs, diced
2 large sweet onions, finely diced
1 parsnip, peeled and finely diced
4 cups chicken stock
8 strips bacon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Fill a large saucepan with water, add the beans, bring to a boil over high heat, and boil for 10 minutes. REduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the beans are soft, about 1 hour. Set a sieve over a bowl and drain the beans; reserve the liquid. Remove any loose bean skins.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in teh same pan over medium heat. Add the celery, onions, and parsnip and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add half the beans and the chicken stock and cook over medium-low heat until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 mintues. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment and lay the bacon strips on teh paper, without overlapping. Bake the bacon for 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly crispy. Remove the baconfrom teh oven and drain on paper towels. W@hen it is cool, dice 4 strips and cut the remaining 4 strips to half.
Using a food processor or a blender (I'm thinking immersion blender), blend the soup to a smooth consistency. Return it to the saucepan and reheat (if necessary)over low heat, adding a little of the bean liquid if the soup is too thick. Add the remaining beans and the diced bacon to the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle the soup into four bowls and garnish each with 2 bacon strip halves. Finish with a sprinkle of teh parsley and a dusting of smoked paprika.