Kielbasa, Bacon & White Bean Soup

While the chilly end of winter temperatures linger, leaving us wondering just what we’ve done to deserve them, I find myself most willingly and obligingly still entrenched in the throes of comfort food cooking. Is there a quicker or easier way to chase away the winter blues…? 

Doesn’t just the thought of a big, steaming bowl of something home-made, make things seem just a little bit better? Mom always did. I think so too and I find that hot & hearty food still beckons, and am sure part of it is to keep up the strength for piling on the necessary cold weather gear.

If you’re going to make a soup where the main ingredient is beans, you should start with dried. There is a difference in taste and final product, though granted, you could certainly make do with the canned variety. Heaven knows we’ve all done it and it’s still better than buying something pre-made that’s loaded with salt/sodium and/or other things you maybe shouldn’t be consuming too much of.

Just plan ahead, like for any good recipe. The wee bit of extra work to soak the beans overnight and put them on the stove to cook, while you happily do other things, is certainly worth the small investment of time.

Kielbasa, Bacon & White Bean Soup

Hot. Hearty, perfect to chase away the winter blues. Use the kielbasa from the supermarket, rather than the premium stuff from the deli, which is usually much leaner – and pricier. You can of course use the leaner if it’s what you have, but in my book, it’s a bit of a waste. The supermarket brand usually has more fat, which in this case, is a good thing. Serves 4~

4 strips bacon, diced, approx. 1 inch pieces
Approx. 300 grams kielbasa, cut in half moons, 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste (approx.1/2 tsp)
Fresh ground black pepper (approx. 1/4 tsp)
White beans, 3 cups cooked with the cooking liquid
Mustard, 1 TBSP (any mustard will do)
White wine vinegar, 1/2 TBSP
Bay leaf, 1 large
Water or stock if needed to cover, approx. 2 – 3 cups

In a Dutch over or similar type large pot, crisp the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon and some of the fat, leaving about 1 TBSP bacon fat, as well as the lovely brown bits from cooking the bacon. Set the bacon aside to drain – you’ll use this later for garnish. Draining it will help keep it crispy.

Add the diced onion and a sprinkle of salt & pepper to the pot; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sliced kielbasa and cook for another 5 or so minutes. Don’t worry about any brown bits that start to form on the bottom – that’s flavour. Just don’t let it get too dark, or your soup just might taste burned.

Add the garlic, and cook stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the mustard, the beans with the cooking liquid and another sprinkle of salt & pepper. If there’s not enough liquid to cover the beans by roughly 1 inch, add water or stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for approx. 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

Remove the bay leaf. Using your favourite method, purée about 1/4 of the beans and liquid, and add back to the pot. This will help with the thickening, while leaving some texture.

Stir in the vinegar, taste, and adjust the seasoning with a little more salt & pepper, if desired.

Serve garnished with the cooked bacon.