Who doesn’t love bacon? Bacon goes with everything, and everything goes with bacon. It should seriously be its own food group. This hearty bean and bacon soup will fill you up and warm your heart … and it’s so easy!
1 Drain the beans that have been soaking in water. (If you haven’t already soaked the beans, and you don’t have time to do so overnight, you can put them in a large pot of water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let sit for an hour, then drain. If you would rather work with canned beans, use 3 to 4 15-ounce cans of drained white beans and cook them in step 3 for only 15 minutes, not an hour.)
2 Put the bacon into a large (5 to 6 quart) thick-bottomed Dutch oven on medium high heat. Let the bacon cook for a minute or two to start rendering out some of its fat, then add the chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are completely cooked through and softened. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
3 Add the drained beans to the pot. Add the stock, the bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Increase heat to high to bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour or until the beans are very soft.
Stir in the tomato paste and the paprika. Cook for 5 more minutes.
4 Using an immersion blender, purée most of the soup. You don’t want the soup to be perfectly smooth, but you want to purée enough of it so that the beans create a creamy base.
Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with crumbled cooked bacon and chopped parsley.