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Martha Stewart´s Bean and Bacon Soup

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1/2 pound bacon (about 10 slices), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) white beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground pepper

Cheddar Toasties:
4 slices sandwich bread
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon pieces, stirring frequently, until brown and just crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside.

Pour all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan. Return the pan to the heat; add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the beans, sage, salt and pepper, and half of the reserved bacon. Simmer for a few more minutes while preparing the cheese toasts.

Meanwhile, heat the broiler; place bread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle bread with cheese; broil until cheese is melted and bread is just golden, about 2 minutes. Cut into triangles.

Garnish soup with remaining bacon, and serve with cheese toasts on the side.

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This delicious soup has graced our table a few times so far. Although it was a bit time consuming, it was definitely worth it! It was a hit with the little ones, too!


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