Brr! The winter weather is pretty bad lately. Not as bad as last year, when we all got stuck in our cars for hours and ate frozen pizza for dinner. (I spent five hours in mine, but made it home safely.) But still it's been bad enough to have a few school closures or late starts. I'm taking advantage of today's day off to do the things that make me happy, like baking and sleeping in.
There's two ways to make this one. One is the lazy shortcut way, which still produces a delicious soup. The other is slightly harder and still produces a delicious soup. Hear that? No matter what, you will be eating delicious soup. The lazy way is to use canned beans. The harder way is to use dried and soak them before using. Which one you do is up to you. It's not difficult for me to leave a bowl of beans soaking on my counter before I leave for work, but other people may not have that luxury. I just like working with dried beans and they are cheaper to play with.
This soup uses some of my favorite ingredients, bacon and kale. It also benefits from my current obsession with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I've taken to keeping these on hand to slide into soups, chilis and casseroles for extra flavor and warmth. They come in a can, but I only use one or two peppers at a time. The extras keep very well in a container in the fridge and make a very convent flavoring for whatever you are having. This soup is easy to make, if not very quick and makes delicious leftovers. I looked at several other recipes for pinto bean soups, but couldn't find one that incorporated much in the way of vegetables, so I had to make my own. They were mostly just slow cooked beans decorated with bacon or ham. I wanted more than that. This is especially delicious with a square of your favorite cornbread recipe.
2 cups dried pinto beans, soaked for eight hours OR two cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 slices bacon
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
About 3 cups of curly leafed kale, sliced thin
Vegetable broth (I make mine using Better than Bullion)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
If you are using dried beans, you want them to soak for at least six hours before using. I measure mine into a mixing bowl, then cover with cold water and leave them be while I am at work. If you decide to use canned beans, just rinse and drain them before using.
Cook the bacon until brown and crisp. Remove from pot and set aside. Add carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the pot. Cook over medium heat in the bacon grease until softened. Add beans and chipotle pepper. Cover with water or broth and salt heavily if using dried beans. Bring it up to a boil, then drop it back down to a simmer. Times get tetchy here, because it can take up to an hour for dried beans to cook. If using canned, expect about twenty minutes. When the beans are soft, add the sliced kale, reserved bacon and black pepper. Salt it again. Seriously. It needs salt. When the greens are tender, your soup is done!
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