Potato, Leek, & Bacon Soup

Here’s a hearty, comforting, and tasty soup that’s a breeze to make. One of my favorite things to cook is homemade soup because it’s so much fun to chop stuff up and add it to a big pot, let it simmer for a while, and enjoy all those flavors together in one spoonful. It’s a good way to use up leftovers or produce before it goes bad – plus most soup ingredients are inexpensive so you can make a big pot for not a lot of dough. I used to make a potato and leek soup, and I’ve also made a potato and bacon soup. This time I combined the two recipes to suit my taste and this is what I came up with. I choose to leave my soup chunky, but some people like to puree this type of soup. Either way, it’s delicious!

{A little note about using leeks if you have never cooked with them before: They are dirty little things! There is a lot of grit in between those layers. They usually come banded up in a bunch of about 3 stalks and they are very long. Cut off the dark green tops. To clean, slice each stalk down the middle longways and then slice the halves into 1/2 inch slices. Put all of the chopped leeks into a big bowl of water and separate them with your fingers in the water. Move them around in the water bath to clean, remove the slices to a clean towel, and pat to dry. Sounds like a pain to do this step, but it’s not hard and it is necessary.}

Potato, Leek, & Bacon Soup
Ingredients:
3 leeks (dark green part removed), halved, chopped, and cleaned
6 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and set aside
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon bacon drippings + 1 tablespoon butter
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken broth
1 dried bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Cook bacon in a large pot until crispy. Set aside and reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings in the pot.
2. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pot with the bacon drippings and saute the chopped leeks with the minced garlic over medium heat until soft. Stir occasionally.
3. While the leeks are in the pot, peel and cube your potatoes. Add them to the pot as you are cutting. Salt and pepper the potatoes and leeks to taste.
4. Add the chicken broth and 1 dried bay leaf. Stir to combine.
5. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer for at least 30 minutes, but you can cook longer if you wish. The potatoes will break down and make the soup thicker the longer you simmer it.
6. Remove the bay leaf. Taste the soup and season with s&p if needed. I like to use a lot of fresh ground pepper in my soups!
7. If you prefer, you can puree the soup at this point, but I don’t.
8. Chop up the crispy bacon into small pieces and add it to the soup. (I leave out any stringy or fatty pieces that didn’t crisp up.)
9. Enjoy!

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Sweet Sugar Beans with Bacon

This baked bean dish brings back fond memories of my Aunt Pauline who lived too far away from us to see very often. I don’t have too many memories of her, but I do remember her big old Victorian house (with the scary basement), her quiet, kind demeanor and her baked beans. Sweetened up Great Northern beans and bacon baked in an oven and served up in her sunny kitchen.

I’m not sure if this is her exact recipe since I never got it before she passed away, but I think it’s pretty close. If you like your beans sweet, you’ll enjoy this! All you need are 4 ingredients.

Sweet Sugar Beans with Bacon
Ingredients:
1 large can (40.5 oz.) of Great Northern beans
1/2 pound uncooked bacon, cut up
2/3 cup white, granulated sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:
Stir together the beans (and liquid), bacon pieces, sugar and garlic salt in a bowl until well combined. Pour into a casserole dish, cover with foil or lid, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour.

Notes:
— If you can’t find a large can of beans, you can use 2 1/2 regular sized cans (15 oz.?? each).
— I use center cut bacon because it’s leaner, and I usually cut off the parts that are just fat.
— You can do these in the slow cooker as well, but I have not tried that yet to say how long they need to cook. Maybe I’ll try that next time and report back. 🙂
~Micha