Thursday, April 16, 2009

Second Helping: Smoky Tomato Bean Soup

This is my take on Jerry Traunfeld's Smoky Tomato Bean Soup. I rarely have great bacon on hand — I have a hard time controlling myself with bacon, so I usually have low-sodium turkey bacon in the fridge. It worked well enough here. Traunfeld's recipe calls for a hearty dose of smoked paprika, but there was none left in my spice cabinet. I substituted chipotle chile powder — much hotter, of course, but a very little goes a long way. I added just a dash and set the spice on the table for diners to add if desired. The sage brings a lovely earthy note to the soup, and a dash of liquid smoke, magic in a bottle, deepens the flavor.

Smoky Tomato Bean Soup

Adapted from Jerry Traunfeld, The Herbfarm Cookbook. Omit bacon for vegetarian version.

4 ounces bacon, preferably smoky variety, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
3 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced, or substitute 3 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon if using canned tomatoes)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 1/2 cups white beans, cooked, or one 15-oz. can, rinsed
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, or more, to taste

Cook bacon in olive oil over medium heat in large saucepan, stirring often, until it renders and begins to crisp. Pour off about half the fat. Add onion, sage, garlic, and chile powder and continue to cook until the onion softens, a few minutes longer. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, then partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the oregano and beans. Season with salt, pepper, and liquid smoke to taste.

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