Cooking Over an Open Fire: English Bacon, Leek and Potato Soup

three tea lightsI enjoy quite times with my family. With gameboys and smartphones and tablets and laptops, that quiet and undisturbed space seems to shrink daily.  So we seek out quiet time, as we can come by it.  This means snuggling away to empty cabins in the woods – without internet, without cell phone coverage.  Finding our way to a beach, or a park, or forests and farms.

Early this spring, we traveled to the quiet countryside of Devon in England, where we stayed in a little canvas cabin by a creek overlooking the wide kelly-green grasses of the farm’s cow pastures.  There was no electricity, no cell phone coverage, just us and quiet. We played Pooh Sticks, dropping twigs into the brook that bordered our camp on one side.  We picked nettles and gathered eggs for our morning omelet.

cauldron (1 of 1)

Cooking Over an Open Fire

With not electricity, and no gas, we cooked our meals on a wood-burning stove, or over an open fire.  It takes planning, gentle tending, and quiet observation. Soups, stews, pot roasts are well-suited to open-fire cooking, for, as they boil, more liquid can be readily added to the pot as needed.

Cooking over an open fire requires intention and attention.  My husband gathered the wood for the fire first, light the kindling and watched the fire as the logs broke down into hot coals.  I prepared the vegetables and meat, peeling and chopping potatoes, slicing leeks, and then he’d hang the cauldron over the hot coals, where it simmered and steamed.  Our son played.

English Bacon and Potato Soup from the Farm

Our food had come from the farm, and was cooked on the farm.  The potatoes, leeks and carrots were dug from the garden, the herbs picked fresh just before cooking, and the meat, butter and broth came from healthy animals, foraging beneath the sun.  Simple and lovely, and deeply nourishing.

The dish first starts by melting butter in a stock pot, then bathing the leeks in the hot butter until they soften and release their fragrance.  Next come the thyme and the English bacon, which is meatier than American bacon, and similar to Canadian bacon.  I added the potatoes and carrots to the pan, cover them with broth and simmer the whole thing together until the vegetables soften.

english bacon potato soup (1 of 1)

English Bacon and Potato Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

English Bacon and Potato Soup

It's a simple soup, uncomplicated and delightful, and it begins first by sauteing leeks in butter. Carrots, thyme, potatoes, English bacon, chives and real bone broth add to the mix, creating a beautiful simple soup - excellent served with freshly baked sourdough bread and more butter.


  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter or ghee (available here)
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pound English-style bacon (available here), chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken bone broth (make it here or buy it here
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives


  1. Melt the butter in a heavy stock pot over medium. When it foams and froths, toss in the sliced leeks and fry them in the butter until they soften and become translucent. Stir in the thyme and bacon, and continue cooking the bacon until it renders its fat and is cooked through - about 6 minutes.
  2. Dump the carrots and potatoes into the pot, stir in the broth and simmer, covered, until the vegetables become tender in the heat of the soup - about 40 minutes.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with chopped chives and serve.


If you cannot find English-style bacon (available here), substitute Canadian bacon or ham. American bacon is too fatty, smoky, salty and rich for inclusion in this meal.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    Sounds like such a lovely holiday! Going on vacation and “getting away from it all” has taken on so much more meaning in this day of ubiquitous internet coverage. Recently even in the midst of an ice storm that knocked out power we still got internet through our phone. We were grateful to be able to easily communicate with friends and family, letting them know we were okay, but it also takes some of the beauty out of those moments when you ought to just be completely present with your family, enjoying the silence and intimacy of being cut off from everyone else. Anyways, I look forward to trips like the one you’ve described and the beautiful memories that are made.

  2. speltBaker says

    well.. it said simple.. and it was. i didn’t put in all the broth – added some white wine and water instead. i also added some hot sauce at the table.

    this is definitely on the list of my all-time favorite soups: so simple, so delicious. thank you – this is a keeper!

  3. says

    This looks like a great recipe! Thank you for posting. Since it is still quite cold, I’m still in the mood for warming cosy soups like these.

  4. Liz says

    This was delicious! Thanks for sharing. I didn’t use English bacon since I wanted to rush to make it, and it was still delicious. I should have paid more attention to the final note because I used American bacon, but I am not sure that I would want to use ham and I haven’t seen Canadian bacon at my supermarket…

  5. Sonia says

    i didnt see the english bacon listed on the site when i clicked the link. Since this is usually not a readily available or easy to find item…what would you suggest as a sub? I would like to try this…it sounds awesome.

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