Creamy Collard Green Soup with Bacony Croutons


Bacon flavored croutons? Yes, please.

Creamy Collard Green Soup with Bacony Croutons
Photo: Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
35 mins

Any Southerner knows that bacon and collards are a match made in heaven. Our Test Kitchen wanted to design a dish that pays tribute to this classic combination in a new, slightly unconventional way. Without further ado, meet our Creamy Collard Green Soup with Bacony Croutons.

This soup is all about layering dynamic flavors to create a final product that's simple in spirit, but complex on the palate. It all starts with the foundational flavor of bacon grease, which is used to cook the alliums (like onion and garlic) and the croutons. From there, we build up the soup with chicken stock, potatoes, and collards. The final result is a soup fortified by greens with a deep, earthy flavor.

The hot sauce, stirred in right before serving, adds a touch of acid and spice without overwhelming the flavor profile of Southern braised collards. Whatever you do, don't skip the croutons. Baking the sourdough croutons with bacon drippings results in a smoky, extra-crispy topping for your collards soup. If you want to prepare this soup ahead of time, the chilled soup can hold up to 3 days in an airtight container without the heavy cream and the hot sauce.


  • 8 thick-cut bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (2 cups)

  • 1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion (from 1 large onion)

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, chopped (1 Tbsp.)

  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock

  • 1 ¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 ¼ cups)

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 8 ounces chopped stemmed collard greens (about 8 cups)

  • 5 cups torn (1-inch pieces) rustic sourdough bread (from 1 [1-lb.] loaf)

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream, plus more for drizzling

  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook bacon in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain using a slotted spoon. Pour drippings (you should have about ½ cup) from pot into a heatproof bowl; reserve. Do not wipe Dutch oven clean.

  2. Return 2 tablespoons of the reserved drippings to Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Add stock, scraping bottom of pot to loosen browned bits. Add potatoes, pepper, and 1 ¼ teaspoons of the salt. Let mixture come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in collards. Cook, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, arrange bread pieces in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of the reserved drippings; toss to coat. (Reserve any remaining drippings for another use.) Bake in preheated oven until crisp and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once after 7 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

  4. Spoon half of the collard mixture into a blender; process until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat process with remaining collard mixture. Stir 1 ½ cups cream, hot sauce, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt into pureed collard mixture. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with remaining cream, and top with croutons and bacon.

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