It may seem like this recipe takes FOREVER to make (soaking the beans overnight, boiling the beans, simmering the soup), but it actually requires very little actual working time - I would say maybe 15 minutes total, just to saute the bacon and the onions.
1 lb bag 15 bean stew bean mix
1/2 lb sliced bacon
1 quart stock (I use beef, but chicken is great too)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a garlic press
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
cracked black pepper
optional: cayenne pepper to taste, white or brown rice for serving over
1. Remove the beans from the packaging, and place in a large pot. Discard that little packet of MSG (it's bad for you!) Fill the pot with cold water, covering the beans by at least 2 inches (I didn't do this last time, and my exposed beans sprouted. Lesson learned!). Let sit at least 6 hours or overnight (you can do this in the morning or the night before. More soaking doesn't hurt!). Rinse the beans in cold water, until the water runs clear. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Boil beans for about 2 hours, skimming off an scum from the surface of the water. When beans are tender and soft when pierced with a fork, they are done. Remove from heat, and pour off any excess water ( I never seem to have any - mine often turns to soup all on it's own when the small beans disintegrate. If this is the case, just reduce the amount of stock you use to 2 cups).
2. Dice bacon strips into a small dice. In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, saute bacon over medium heat until very crisp and golden, about 15 minutes (if it's soft at all, it get's mushy and chewy in the soup), being careful not to burn it. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and place diced onion and garlic in the left-over bacon grease. Saute until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add stock, diced tomatoes, beans, bacon, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil, and simmer 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cayenne pepper to taste, and correct seasonings if it needs more salt or pepper. Serve on it's own, or with a little dollop of sour cream. Also great over rice!