Truly the best bean & bacon soup recipe! It’s a hug in a bowl that's perfectly hearty, smoky, and downright delicious. You can make this recipe using fresh, dried, canned or frozen beans!
A few weeks back, on our way upstate to peep at some fall foliage, we stopped at a farmer's market in Sparta, NJ. All of the produce was various shades of our beloved, warm, autumn palette. Amidst the oranges and browns, greens and whites, flecks of magenta peaked out at me. Cranberry beans!
Fresh cranberry beans are absolutely delicious, buttery, soft, and perfectly filling on a cooler day. I decided to shuck my beans and soak them in water overnight. I wasn't certain about what I would do with the beans in the morning, so I just let them hang out and get ready for their destiny.
The next day, I felt like soup thanks to a serious chill in the air. I wanted to be enrobed in the flavors of the season. Silky, smoky, rich and earthy soup flavored with parmesan, rosemary, and bacon. Ugh, I can almost taste it now.
This soup can easily be made using any beans that you have, included dried or canned if fresh are not available. Let me show you how it's done!
CRANBERRY BEAN & BACON SOUP INGREDIENTS:
- Cranberry (Borlotti) Beans: If you can find fresh cranberry beans, they are the best option. Otherwise, dried cranberry beans will be the perfect swap! If you're in a pinch, you can really use white beans you have on hand, even canned. Just make sure to drain and rinse any canned beans before cooking with them!
- Bacon: I love the smoky flavor bacon adds to the soup. If you can find thick-cut bacon, that will be best here! If you don't eat pork, you can use turkey bacon. And if you don't eat meat, feel free to leave out meat entirely.
- Mirepoix: AKA Carrots, onions and celery, AKA, the base of any great Italian soup. You'll need about 2 cups total.
- Bay Leaves + Rosemary: Since this is a quick-cooking soup, we need to use herbs to add lots of flavor.
- Garlic: Zippy!
- Parmesan Rind: Don't discard your parmesan rind! It adds the best umami flavor to soups and stews! Either cut the rind of a piece of parmesan at home, or ask your local cheese monger for some.
- Kale: The bright green color and fresh flavor adds oomph to this soup. Plus, nutrients!
- Salt & Pepper: Of course.
- Chicken Broth: You can use store-bought or homemade chicken broth. Buy low-sodium, and organic, if possible.
HOW TO MAKE THIS CRANBERRY BEAN & BACON SOUP:
- Soak your beans: Soak your beans for 8-12 hours in cold water before cooking with them. I just leave them in the fridge overnight before cooking.
- Brown your bacon. In a really hot, cast-iron soup pot (I love this Staub cocotte) brown your bacon.
- Sweat the mirepoix: Add carrots, onions and celery to the pot with bacon and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until lightly browned. Add garlic. Cook for another minute.
- Add beans: Add drained beans and stir to coat them in bacon fat.
- Add herbs, parmesan rind, broth and water: Bring everything up to a boil, then turn the heat down to low.
- Simmer: For about an hour, or until the beans are tender.
- Add kale: Cook until the kale is tender, about ten more minutes.
- Remove bay leaves, rosemary stems, and parmesan rind: Those are no fun to eat!
- Serve with: more parmesan cheese on top, a grind or two of fresh pepper, and crusty bread!
POSSIBLE SOUP VARIATIONS:
Want to customize this cranberry bean & bacon soup recipe? You can easily...
- Use other beans: Canned, frozen, fresh, or dried will all work. If using fresh, dried or frozen, make sure to soak for 12 hours before cooking. This allows for softer, tastier beans. If using canned, drain and rinse before adding to the soup pot.
- Add more protein: Some shredded, cooked chicken breast would be a nice addition. Add it when you add the broth and water!
- Bulk up the veggies: If you want to up the vegetable ante, feel free to add more veggies alongside the kale. Cubed zucchini would be lovely!
- Change up the herbs: If you don't love rosemary, feel free to add thyme or sage instead.
- Make it vegetarian: Just omit the bacon!
MORE SOUP RECIPESPrint
This cranberry bean & bacon soup is chock full of flavor. Way better than a can of Campbell's, my easy recipe is made on the stove in just one hour! Smoky, hearty and perfect for an autumn day, just soak your beans overnight for the best flavor, and make sure to use thick-cut bacon for that extra bite! You can also make this soup in a crockpot, instant pot, or slow cooker!
1 lb. fresh or dried cranberry (borlotti) beans, soaked overnight
2 cups minced mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery)
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cubed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1-inch piece parmesan rind
2 bay leaves, dried or fresh
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 32oz. carton chicken broth, preferably low-sodium and organic
1.5 cups filtered water
4-8 dinosaur (lacinto) kale leaves, de-stemmed and sliced thinly
for serving: grated parmesan cheese, crusty bread
- Bring a large cast-iron pot to medium-high heat.
- Add bacon and cook until deeply golden and all the fat has rendered out. It should be crispy.
- Add mirepoix, salt, and pepper.
- Coat mirepoix in bacon fat and turn down the heat a bit, to medium.
- Cover and cook until translucent but slightly golden, about 8 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until you begin to smell the garlic.
- Add bay leaves, rosemary and parmesan rind.
- Add broth and water.
- Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the beans are tender.
- Once the beans are tender, add kale and cook for another ten minutes.
- Using tongs, remove parmesan rind and bay leaves.
- Serve immediately and top with extra grated parmesan and fresh black pepper, if desired.
- Prep Time: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: soup, bean soup, cranberry bean soup, borlotti beans, bacon, bacon soup, bean and bacon soup, tuscan soup