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Bean soup is a staple in the coal region at block parties, church picnics, and holiday celebrations. But soaking dried beans, simmering them, and cooking down a ham end or hock can be time consuming and means making a long simmered bean soup takes planning. The best traditional bean soup here in Schuylkill County often includes a huge black iron kettle over an open flame — and beer…IN the soup, not just with it.
But sometimes, you want memories, filling flavors, and thoughts of the comforts of home but are short on time. Here is a QUICK AND EASY bean soup that starts with bacon and canned beans for you to enjoy and reminisce over about Coal Cracker memories of gatherings and foods associated with them. And this version even includes the beer! (if desired).
Super Quick and Easy Coal Region Bean SoupCourse: SoupsCuisine: Coal Region, Pa. DutchDifficulty: Intermediate
8 oz. good quality smoked bacon (local butcher shop or farmer is best), diced
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken low sodium chicken broth
3 cans (15 oz each) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 ounce) diced potatoes, drained
salt and pepper
1 – 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1/2 water and 1/2 beer (Yuengling. here in Schuylkill County, Pa.) to make 1 cup liquid OR 1- 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
- Cook the bacon in a soup pot or Dutch oven until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
- To the hot bacon grease, add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir in the chicken broth and beans.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a bubble then reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 40 to 45 minutes. Stir often.
- Remove half of the soup to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Return the puree to the soup pot and stir into the remaining soup. Add the drained canned diced potatoes, the tomato sauce OR paste and the water/beer and the reserved bacon and stir to combine.
- Return to the heat until it is heated through.