- 6 ounces thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Two 15-ounce cans pink beans with their liquid
- 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- Cayenne pepper
- 1 jumbo corn muffin (about 5 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- Chopped scallions, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon strips over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer the crispy bacon to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the saucepan.
- Add the onion and garlic to the fat in the saucepan and cook, stirring, until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and maple syrup and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thick, about 3 minutes. Add the pink beans and their liquid and cook until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bacon strips, season lightly with salt and cayenne pepper and simmer the soup over moderate heat until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spread the corn muffin cubes on a small baking sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until they are golden and crisp. Let the corn muffin croutons cool slightly.
- Ladle the soup into deep bowls, garnish with the corn muffin croutons and chopped scallions and serve.
Spicy red blend.