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I begin to turn to soup when the weather outside turns a bit crisp, and I keep right on making and eating hearty, healthy, warming soups all winter long. This is an adaptable soup. Instead of the swiss chard, you could substitute any dark greens (spinach, turnip tops, radish tops, mustard greens, etc.). You could also substitute beans and/or rice for the potato; add fall veggies like sweet potatoes or squash; etc. Unless you're veggie, don't leave out the bacon. Smoked, cured pork products paired with leafy greens are one of life's simple luxuries.
- 8 ounces bacon, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 lb swiss chard (leaves julienned, fibery stalks diced)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 potatoes, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 gallon chicken stock (preferably your homemade, but purchased stock will work too)
- salt and black pepper
- I think it's easier to cut bacon when it's just out of the freezer. Anyway, cut the bacon across the strips, cutting it into small cross-sections of bacon strips. Add the bacon to a heavy-bottomed large soup pot over a medium flame. Render the bacon fat, stirring frequently to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pan. Once the bacon is crispy (but not burnt), remove it to a papertowel lined bowl/plate with a slotted spoon.
- Into the hot, delicious bacon fat add the carrots, celery, onion, swiss chard stalks, and bay leaves. Saute until vegetables soften, release liquid, and brown a bit (maybe up to 10 minutes or so?). The browning (but not burning) will develop additional flavor that will help to flavor your soup.
- Once the veggies have caramelized a bit, add the garlic, potatoes, and black pepper. Saute a few minutes until garlic is fragrant but not burnt.
- Add the swiss chard leaves, and stir well. The garlic and vegetable infused fat should evenly coat and cling to the contents on the pot. Add the chicken stock, enough to cover the veggies, cover the pot, and over a high flame bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer.
- Keep the soup at a bare simmer for 30 - 45 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are done to your liking. Taste and adjust the salt and black pepper. At this point, you can enjoy the soup as is, or you can use an immersion blender (or the tool of your choice) to further meld the flavors.
- Serve hot how you like it. With the crunchy bacon pieces, crusty bread, drizzled with a little olive oil, topped with a dollop of sour cream, dusted with a fresh turn of black pepper--the options are endless.
Yummy! I have to say that I didn't follow it to the letter. I added celeriac, fresh thyme, Parmesan rind (to deepen the broth), and a bit of cayenne. Also, I substituted macaroni for the potatoes. This is indeed a very satisfying soup as jo_mama claims. And I definitely second the necessity of the bacon.