Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bean and Bacon Soup with Cheese Toast

I've been reading, "The Essentials of Japanese Cooking" lately. It's a cookbook that was given to me over the holidays. It's been a lot of fun to read. And although I'm excited, at the same time, I'm also intimidated and overwhelmed by the recipes. Japanese cooking is SO different than any other style of cooking that I have tried. I know here in Yokosuka, that every ingredient to these recipes exists. The problem is trying to find all of those ingredients, or maybe trying to ask a grocer if they carry that item. You all should have seen me the other day trying to ask where the Tempura Sauce was.

At any rate, after a couple days of reading this book it made me want to cook something completely simple and this did the trick. Also, I made this because I had 8 ounces of Bacon/Salted Pork left over from the previous night. Mostly during the week, I enjoy making quick, easy & cheap meals. I really get excited when I can find a recipe that will fill up my family of three for very little $$$ (or Yen). I'm sure that there are many variations of Bean and Bacon soup. This one fits for me if only because of it's simplicity. Cut this out of the Fall 2003 edition of Martha Stewart Kids Magazine. This is a great family recipe. You can use Navy Beans or Great Northern Beans in this soup. Whatever floats your boat. I skipped the whole step 2 of draining the fat and reserving 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease. Since I had the salted pork instead of bacon slices, I just cut it up in small bits and fried it in the same soup pot with everything. I'd suggest cutting everything in advance if you can. While the pork was cooking I just cut everything up and threw it in as I cut it though. I didn't have any chicken stock on hand last night so, I just used 4 cups of water and 2 bouillon cubes then an additional cup of water to cut the saltiness. In fact, try leaving out the salt listed in the ingredients if you are watching your salt intake or just don't like really salty dishes. Also, try using a toaster oven if you have one instead of the broiler when making the cheese toast that way, both sides turn out crunchy. I didn't garnish the soup this time on account that I didn't use bacon slices.

I've copied the directions directly from the original recipe. Being that this is from a Martha Stewart magazine, it's very exact in it's directions. I don't know anyone whose taken out a ruler when cutting vegitables so please, use your best judgement!

1/2 lb. bacon (about 10 slices)
1 small onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch peices
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch peices
3 cups chicken or vegitable stock
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) white beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt (about a half of 1/8 of a teaspoon)
4 slices sandwich bread
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon pieces, stirring frequently, until brown and just crip, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside
2.. Pour all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan. Return the pan to the heat; add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften about 3 minutes. Add the stock and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer unitl vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the beans, sage, salt and pepper, and half of the reserved bacon. Simmer for a few more minutes while preparing the cheese toasts.
3. Meanwhile, heat the broiler; place bread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle berad with cheese; broil until cheese is melted and bread is just golden, about 2 minutes. Cut into triangles.
4. Garnish soup with remaining bacon and serve with cheese toast on the side.


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