White Bean and Smoked Pork Soup

As I’ve mentioned, Meat Farms is selling slab bacon now, and there are some recipes, especially soups, that really do benefit from bacon in chuck or diced cuts. Its why I prefer the thick cut bacon to regular sliced bacon. Bacon regularly sliced becomes non existent when added to soups, it just renders down to nothing.  Recipes often call for larger piece of smoked pork, like hocks, or butts, to add meat to these recipes. But, now, there is an option… really meaty bacon! So, without further ado… here’s an upgrade to our White Bean soup.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pound slab bacon diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 large onions sliced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 cups of cooked white kidney beans, or great northern beans
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups of water
  • salt and pepper and a dash of hot sauce to taste

Melt the butter in a kettle and saute the bacon until ti just starts to crisp. Add the onions and sweat them for five minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and slowly cook over a low heat for about half and hour. Serve with buttered chunks of fresh bread.


Hmm Hmm Skillet Potatoes

I was out east last Wednesday to take my Mom out to the grocery. She has a Meat Farms market out by her and while we where there I picked up a pound of slab bacon. I don’t often get slab bacon, and since the market had a couple of packages of white and portobello mushrooms on their sale rack, an alarm went off in my head. It should come as no surprise to my more faithful readers that my alarm sounds an awful lot like a dinner bell! Since they always have great prices on potatoes and onions at Meat farms, my next course of action seemed pretty clear. Oh, and I grabbed a couple of jalapenos and the rest is outlined below:

Here’s what you’ll need (f you skipped the narrative above):

  • 1 cup of slab bacon diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 medium portobello mushrooms diced
  • 2 large white mushrooms diced
  • 3 medium long island potatoes diced
  • 2 jalapenos minced
  • paprika, salt, pepper

In a nice seasoned cast iron skillet, start browning up the bacon. Then toss in the onion and jalapeno. Then toss in the mushrooms. As this gets cooking, toss in the diced potatoes. Sprinkle this with paprika for coloring, then fold the potatoes into the mixture. As its cooking up season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Once the potatoes are cooked through and soft, the dish is ready to serve. If you don’t like the heat of the jalapeno, you could substitute a small green bell pepper.

Ham Hock and Cabbage Soup

Here’s a slow simmering all day soup that is sure to please the inner redneck-child is us all. From my ‘pork preservation’ book, its a shredded cabbage soup augmented with a small ham hock. Now, if you’re not used to buying such delicacies, make sure you buy a smoked ham hock. I have noticed that the local Met Foods by me is starting to sell un-smoked hocks. Personally I’ve never heard of un-smoked hock, but there they are… all pink and colorful. Perhaps, I’ll pick up one of these and smoke it myself, but that’s a task for another day. Meanwhile, on with the soup…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp bacon fat
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 garlic cloved minced
  • 1 small head of green cabbage shredded
  • 1 medium smoked ham hock
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt pepper Tabasco to taste

Sauté onion, celery, carrot, garlic w bacon about five minutes. Add cabbage sauté about five minutes. Nestle ham hock in the cabbage. Add remaining ingredients plus enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, skim scum off the top, reduce heat, simmer about two hours till ham is tender. Remove ham hock, discard skin and fat, chop the remaining meat and return it to the soup… stir well and serve.


Friday’s ‘on sale’ Bread used on Sunday

Stop and Shop, a large food retailer, one of my ‘local’ sources, has a special on loves of Italian bread on Fridays. Loaves that usually sell for two dollars a loaf, are one dollar per loaf. I think they were driven to this action by the competing Met Foods down the road which has a deal with my local Monreal bakery selling loaves of Italian and French bread for a dollar a loaf on Fridays. Any given Friday when you walk into Met Foods there is the wall of fresh baked bread aroma, and several racks of bread just rolled out into the store isles. So, with this king of Friday deal, I usually pick up two loaves, one to use right away nice and fresh. The other I leave out to use on Sunday. By Sunday, the loaf left out has dries sufficiently to make a wonderful bread pudding. Now that autumn is here, its time to break out the autumnal treats.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups whole milk (or 2 cups half & half)
  • 1 stick (1/4 cup, or 4 tbsp) butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark, depending on taste preference)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of dried bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat milk (or half & half) just until film forms over top. Combine butter and milk, stirring until butter is melted. Cool to this mixture until its lukewarm. Now, in a large bowl combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Beat this until its well mixed and then slowly add the milk mixture.

Place the bread in a lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with raisins if desired, and pour the batter on top of bread. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Serve warm, perhaps with egg nog or warm cider.

Kindey Beans!

Minestrone Soup, there’s something about this soup that makes me think of fall. Its probably tat the beans have to cook all day long and that heats up the house pretty well. As it turns out, I have this big badg of kidney beans and I was tinking to myself… hmm… that’s a whole lot of beans. And then I thought, why not make a soup. This way I can use up some of those beans while thinking of what to do with the rest of them… hmm perhaps chili? But, in any case, let’s make some soup.


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of cooked all freakin day long kidney beans
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked pasta, (my friend and dinner guest likes the elbows, so elbows it is)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Basil sprigs, garnish, optional


Toss the onion, carrots, celery, and the broth in a soup pot with the thyme, sage, bay leaves, pepper, and salt. Heat under a low flame until the vegetables are al dente. Then, toss in the zucchini. Let this cook a few minutes, then toss in the previously cooked kidney beans and pasta. Grate the cheese into the soup and let this cook a few minutes. Then, serve this up with nice chunks of garlic bread and ward off the vampires.