Souper Sunday: Chicken, White Bean and Bacon Soup

Chicken and White Bean Soup

I love the way Italian cuisine pairs beans with meats or bitter greens. I’ve drawn upon that tradition for this hearty, warming soup just in time for flu season.

Diagonally Sliced Carrots

I tend to avoid chicken breast meat like plague. Dry, tasteless and unappealing, chicken breasts are held in high regard by the low-fat prophets (profits?) for high protein content minus pesky fat. Never mind the majority of the nutrition we derive from meats is located in the fat, skin, marrow and collagen, our need for protein entirely secondary. Too much protein will transform into glycogen within our bodies — a form of glucose that settles as body fat on our derrières and other places we think we’re protecting by eating bland breast meat.

So, in the spirit of true nourishment, I say down with breast meat! Bones are imperative for this recipe as you’ll be making your own good, rich broth during the cooking process. I used the chicken legs I had on hand, but you could also use thighs, or if you choose to use breasts, please buy breasts with the breast bone and ribs still attached.

Thickly Slice the OnionMaking your own bone broth is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your overall health. You can make big batches of stock for freezing, but cooking meat on the bone for a few hours and consuming the resulting broth as part of the meal is as simple as it comes.

You’ll be consuming the entire spectrum of amino acids, collagen for joint and skin health, a variety of accessible minerals, natural gelatin, a good dose of omega 3 fatty acids provided you buy pastured, free range chicken, and natural fats, which according to Nora Gedgaudas in her book, Primal Body, Primal Mind, are necessary in “… building, rebuilding, and maintaining cellular membranes and nerve tissue, manufacturing hormones and neurotransmitters, facilitating cellular communication and absorption of critical fat-soluble nutrients… supporting the immune and lymphatic systems… and fueling the brain, heart and other muscles.”

No wonder chicken broth has been traditionally considered a flu remedy!

Thyme

Buy your chicken with the skin and bones, and remember that the natural tastiness of real food, without manipulation by MSG, trans fats, corn products like high fructose corn syrup, sugar or excessive saltiness (read: foods designed by Mother Earth, not Dr. Laboratory) is a pretty good indication of available nutrients, i.e. those unfairly shunned fatty chicken legs and thighs.

And as fast as you can, dump out all fake powered broths containing strange things like yeast, MSG (usually called “natural flavors”), sugar, corn starch, vegetable oils and who knows what other preservatives.

An interesting observation: since I’ve stopped consuming foods with industrial preservatives I can both smell and taste them immediately. Walking through Costco at lunch time the other day I was awash in the heavy, metallic, preservative-laden smells of the various packaged foods they were offering as samples. It was surprising, and decidedly unappetizing.

Ingredients

Garlic, Thyme and Parsley

· 8 chicken legs or thighs, skin on
· 6 slices (streaky) bacon, cut into 1/2 inch segments
· 1 cup cooked white beans such as Navy, Great Northern or Cannellini
· 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
· 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal
· 2 stalks celery, thinly chopped
· 1 yellow onion, chopped
· 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
· 1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
· 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
· 2 bay leaves
· Juice from 1/2 a lemon
· salt to taste
Navy Beans· freshly ground black pepper

Fry the bacon over a medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Once its fat has mostly rendered (5-10 minutes or so), add the onions and soften till translucent.

Add the chicken legs for browning on all sides. Browning meats seals in their natural flavors. You might need to kick the heat up a bit, but keep an eye out for burning.

Slices of Bacon

Once the chicken has lightly browned on all sides, pour in enough water to fully cover everything (or more if you like a soupy-soup). Bring to the boil and skim off the grey scum that bubbles to the top. Then add the white wine or vermouth which will help to draw minerals from the bones.

Lower the heat and good on a gentle simmer for an hour, then add the beans, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs and simmer for another hour.

The longer you cook it, the more nutrients the broth will contain. However you want your chicken to be falling-apart tender, not disintegrated, so be careful if you surpass the 2 hour mark.

Saute the Chicken, Bacon and OnionsTake the soup off the heat and begin to add salt and lemon juice to taste. Acids like lemon or vinegar boost natural flavors thereby reducing the need for salt, so go slow and taste, taste, taste.

Remove the skin for serving if you choose, and either serve a whole leg or thigh in each bowl or you might choose to shred the meat from the bones before serving.

Either way, you’ll be getting a delicious, nourishing serving of real chicken broth to keep you in tip-top shape this flu season. To your health!

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21 thoughts on “Souper Sunday: Chicken, White Bean and Bacon Soup

  1. Too lovely and heart warming dish. I can drink bowls of these without any worries. I am curious about those three fruits/vegetables at the side of your first picture. What are they?

    • Thanks Danny! Those are persimmons, which ripen here in December and January. Delicious little fruit, but you must make sure they’re completely ripe before you bite because some varieties will leave you with a fuzzy-feeling tongue if they’re not ready! 🙂 Also called Sharon Fruit, if I’m not mistaken…

      • Persimmons! I’ve never seen such red colored ones over here. It’s always the pale orange version from china or Korea. And yes, mostly not ready so I often get that fuzzy-feeling tongue after eating. Now I know why. Thank you so much for sharing Marisa
        🙂

  2. Wow. Do love your sensibilities! Yes, completely with you on using the darker meat. The last I bought chicken was for Christmas Day when I could only find breast quarters, with wish bone and ribs. Still, the meat was much blander than the dark I’m used to. Ate loads of veggies, though. Must, must, must cook my chicken broth for longer in future! That I didn’t realise.

    • Why, thank you! Yes, I’ll have to share my favorite broth recipe using beef marrow bones where I simmer them for at least 12 hours. You know you’ve done it right when your broth is noticeably gelatin when it’s cold in the refrigerator. Makes my joints ache a little less just thinking about it! 🙂

  3. Fantastic, as usual! And crikey, thank heavens someone else thinks the same about chicken breast meat…should be up there with Brussel Sprouts! Okay, that’s not fair on brussel sprouts, but I hardly ever eat chicken breast! 🙂

  4. Marisa, I love a colourful soup and this is one! And I love that you put bacon in the chicken soup. Sounds and looks delicious 🙂

  5. Pingback: Italian White Chilli Chicken with a Parmesan, Pear & Walnut Salad | James's Recipes

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