Cook the bacon in a medium pot over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the sausage and cook with the bacon until browned, about 5 minutes more. Add the onions and Essence and cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the crushed red pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and chicken stock and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Stir in the cilantro, ladle into warm soup bowls, and serve with crusty bread.
Yield: about 3 quarts