This bacon, kale and bean soup recipe is a blueprint for soups to come

Bacon, Kale and Bean Soup

Total time:45 mins


Total time:45 mins



I’m a soup convert. I work with a band of soup lovers. When I first arrived at The Post in 2019, my colleagues would extol the virtues of a well-made bowl, and I’d smile and nod as I suppressed a shrug.

I’m not sure where my lack of enthusiasm for soup began. Maybe it was the lingering memory of the canned chicken noodle soup I ate as a child when I was sick with a cold. Maybe I was turned off after the cabbage soup diet craze that I embraced in the 1980s.

What I do know is that it has taken me too long to realize what I’ve been missing.

As I’ve tested and tasted soups at home and in the Food Lab, I’ve been enlightened and convinced. I remember dipping a spoon into the Restorative Chicken and Rice Soup that Olga Massov said was inspired by a recipe in “Elizabeth Street Cafe” by Tom Moorman and Larry McGuire. I swear it made me feel younger.

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When Kristen Hartke wrote about soup master Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette and we published his Monastic Garlic Soup, I slurped it up with enthusiasm. (I have long been a garlic fiend, and this simple dish was right up my alley.)

What did we do with the food delivery gift certificate that friends gave us when we got covid-19? We ordered heaping containers of pho, which we ate over several days as we recuperated.

I had planned to write about my newfound appreciation for soup and my intention to embrace it more enthusiastically in the new year even before I read Damon Young’s moving perspective piece “Soup is so much more than food.”

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He wrote: “Think about how you must consume it. It is not a food, like a slice of pizza, a taco or a sandwich, that you can eat on the run. If you attempt to run while also attempting to eat it, you will experience both the loss of soup and the gain of well-deserved shame. You need to sit with soup and take your time. If the soup is hot, you need to cool it before you place it into your mouth, and we mostly do this by blowing gently on to it until it is ready. It demands that you savor it, and it asks that you care for yourself while taking care of it.”

So here I was thinking that it was about the taste, the nourishment and the hydration, but Young makes a much more lovely and thoughtful point: Soup requires a pause in the action, giving us a chance to sit and spoon.

On top of that, once you embrace these brothy bowls, you’ll discover that many recipes are blueprints: You can creatively soup up all kinds of herbs, proteins and starches.

This simple, rustic, hearty recipe from “Pipers Farm: The Sustainable Meat Cookbook” is a great example of that. You can make it as described here, or try substituting chorizo or another favorite sausage or plant-based protein for the bacon. Switch the chicken broth to vegetable broth. Try it with collards or your favorite greens rather than the kale. Don’t have cannellini? Add butter beans or chickpeas.

Just do me one favor. After you ladle it into a bowl, hit that pause button for just a second. Then dip that spoon in while collecting your thoughts, reading a book, or chatting with family or friends. Let the soup do its thing.

Bacon, Kale and Bean Soup

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Note: If you use lacinato (also known as Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale or cavolo nero), remove and discard the thick stems, coarsely chop the leaves and cook the greens until they reach the desired tenderness.

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  • 8 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 small yellow or white onions (10 ounces total), finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 4 cups no-salt-added chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 1/3 cup tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • One (15-ounce) can no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 ounces baby kale, roughly chopped (see NOTE)
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Warmed sourdough bread, for serving

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, tomato puree and paprika. Reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the bay leaves and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the cannellini beans and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the kale and simmer until it has wilted and softened to your liking. Taste the soup, and season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve with sourdough on the side.

Calories: 419; Total Fat: 24 g; Saturated Fat: 7 g; Cholesterol: 55 mg; Sodium: 1,026 mg; Carbohydrates: 28 g; Dietary Fiber: 7 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 24 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Pipers Farm: The Sustainable Meat Cookbook” by Abby Allen and Rachel Lovell (Hachette Book Group, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to [email protected].

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