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Bacon Potato And White Bean Soup

1/2 pound slab of hickory-cured bacon, cut into 3/8 inch dice
1 tablespoon. unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
3 large leeks (white and tender green) cut 1/2 inch
1/2 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small celery rib, coarsely chopped
1 medium red pepper, cut 1/4 inch
4 cups chicken stock or canned broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 large potatoes (about 1 lb.) peeled, cut 1/2 inch

1 can (19 oz.) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Place bacon in large saucepan, cover with water. Simmer on medium-high heat 5 minutes. Drain, pat dry with paper towel. Wipe out pan and return bacon to pan. Fry until golden and crispy. Drain bacon, discard fat, wipe with paper towel in pan. Add butter, reduce heat, when melted add onion, leeks, carrot, celery and red pepper. Cook vegetables until lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add bacon, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Simmer, stir occasionally, 5 minutes. Add potatoes and simmer, stir until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Add white beans simmer 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve hot. (Can be made 1 day ahead of time. Remove any fat before serving.) Serve with buttermilk jalapeno corn sticks.

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