This hearty Bacon, Sausage, and Bean Soup won second prize in the 2012 Bacon Recipe Contest featured in The 2012 Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, then remove it and set aside on paper towels to drain. Crumble the bacon. Add the sausage to the bacon drippings in the pan and cook until browned. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pan and saute for 3 minutes, or until tender. Remove the vegetables and set aside in a medium bowl. Wipe the pan and return the sausage and sauteed vegetables to it, along with the beans, broth, tomatoes, cilantro, tomato paste, lime juice, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Add the bacon and stir to combine. Bring the ingredients to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Ladle the soup into bowls, then top each with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with cilantro leaves.