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These meals are intended to be a relatively simple and healthy weeknight meal for a family of four. We assume that these dinners are being made in a kitchen stocked with regular kitchen staples. We will not include prices of oil, sugar, flour, spices, etc. unless you need a 1/4 cup or more. Regional food prices may vary and can be reduced by smart shopping techniques.
This recipe is a version of a childhood favorite of mine, Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup. This recipe will leave you lots of leftovers and will be just as good the second day, maybe even better. The whole family really liked it.Even my picky nine year old said "It was actually not too bad".
|1 lb. small navy beans (or two cans)||$2.00|
|1 yellow onion||$.99|
|3-4 cloves garlic||$.33|
|3 stalks celery||$.50|
|chicken base (or bouillon)*||$.50|
|1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)||$.65|
|1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled (appx 6 slices)||$1.50|
|Total Cost = $6.97|
*You can use chicken stock or broth in place of bouillon. A ham or pork flavored broth or base would work well, too. If you have a bone from a Christmas or Easter ham, use it to make stock for a soup like this.
Cook your bacon first and set aside. In this case, I already had leftover bacon from an earlier breakfast. Finely chop onion, celery and carrots into "bean" sized pieces. Mince or press 2-3 garlic cloves. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil (or use some reserved bacon fat) to a stock pot or Dutch oven. Heat oil to medium low then add vegetable mixture.
When onions are translucent and carrots are softened, add water and chicken base (to make 4-6 cups of broth), beans, tomato paste, bacon, 1 Tbsp. vinegar, 1 tsp. thyme and 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
Simmer on low, stirring occasionally until the beans are softened, usually 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When they are done, take an immersion blender and puree about half the soup pot. If you don't have an immersion blender, you could use a potato masher, blend the hot soup in your regular blender (take the center part of the lid off to let the steam escape), or just leave it chunky. The longer you cook it, the more it will break down and be like the canned Campbells soup.
Give the soup a final taste, adding more spices and salt and pepper to taste. If you like a creamier soup, add 1/4 cup of milk or cream to the pot before serving.