Sunday, September 30, 2012

Some warm food for a rainy fall day

Saturday, as promised by the forecasters at, the remnants of TS Miriam sat over the D-FW metroplex and dumped rain on us for over 20 hours.  Actually, as I watched it come almost straight down from the sky, it did remind me of the rainy days I had seen as a child at Clark AFB, near Angeles City on "the big island" (Luzon) in the Philippines: warm, soaking and consistent, enough to put some water in the ditches and arroyos without creating white-water rapids or causing flooding concerns.

Just the perfect kind of day for a bowl of hearty soup, with some salad and bread on the side.  Homemade soup is dirt-simple to make (in most cases) and cost-efficient; I once heard someone from a large family describe his mother's welcoming attitude for when his siblings brought friends home for dinner: "Just put another bowl on the table and throw some water in the soup."  A good soup recipe will stretch quite a bit before it loses its taste and ability to fill you up.

So instead of going to Olive Garden, I made Bean 'n Bacon Chowder.  (I was tempted to make Black Bean Chili, but I'd already made it a couple of weeks before.)  Mom had bought a box of Pepperidge Farms' Texas Garlic Bread and some bagged romaine lettuce — alas, we have no Caesar dressing; Caesar salad would have been the perfect choice for this meal.  The results were still hearty, tasty and filling without needing much prep work.

  • 4 strips bacon — no fancy flavors or brands, plain ol' Oscar Mayer is just fine
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ bell pepper, diced
  • 1 27-oz. can Bush's Best® red or pinto beans
  • 1 28-oz. can tomatoes, whole or crushed
  • ½ cup chicken broth or stock
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • ½ tsp. salt
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-low heat, making sure the drippings don't smoke, until the bacon is crisp but not blackened.  Remove the bacon and place on paper towel.  Using the drippings, sauté the onion and bell pepper for about 2-3 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, crumbling bacon before adding.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until soup is reduced to desired thickness.  Serve with warm bread and salad.  Makes about 6 servings.