1. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 8 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Add onion, garlic, and bay leaf; cook, stirring often, 3 minutes or until onion is tender.
2. Add bell pepper; cook, stirring often, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, if desired, and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes.
3. Add chicken broth and butterbeans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
4. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring often. Stir in salt and next 3 ingredients. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with cooked bacon.