Souper Sunday: Ham and Bean soup

I have been telling myself that I want to learn to make different types of soups for quite awhile, but I never seem to do it.  I thought having a feature on my blog might help motivate me!  I’m usually a “recipe-girl.”  Hubby likes to make things up when he cooks, but I much prefer working from a recipe, even if I usually tweak it.  Last week, we had a ham steak (we bought half of a locally raised pig last fall) for dinner.  There was a small bit left, as well as the little ham bone.  We also had some bacon for breakfast over the weekend (also thanks to our piggy-friend), and saved a few slices in the refrigerator.  These were the makings of some soup, I kept telling myself.

Of course, I forgot to soak the beans the night before, but no worries.  I just put them in a pot in the morning, let them boil for about 5 minutes, and then had them sit in the hot water for two hours until lunchtime when I was ready to start the soup.  Since I was just making this soup up as I went along, my measurements aren’t going to be very exact.  But, don’t worry about that!  It’s soup, it doesn’t really matter too much.

The soup turned out great!  I was so pleased with myself.  Of course, the kids wouldn’t eat it.  They don’t care for soup usually.  I keep hoping that if I keep serving it that eventually they will like it.  It worked with K and sushi!  We went out to a new (to us) sushi restaurant for dinner last night (excellent!), and all he ordered for his meal was sushi.  A California roll, Eel roll, and a side of rice.  So excited to have finally converted him.  (Of course, J had chicken katsu.  He did eat a tempura sweet potato and crab stick sashimi, so that’s a step in the right direction, I suppose.)  So, maybe I can eventually convert them over to soup too.  So, here is a general blueprint for what I did.  I served the soup with some fresh whole wheat sourdough bread.

Ham and Bean Soup

1.5 pounds of dried beans (your preference, I used a mix of navy beans and small red beans, and some local beans from my CSA that I had in the cupboard)
3-4 slices of bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped medium
3-4 carrots, chopped medium
2 ribs of celery, chopped medium
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 bay leaves
Some leftover ham from a ham steak, include the bone and fat!  Chop up any meat pieces into bite-sized.  *See Note
6 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of water (or enough to bring up the level of water to what looks right)

1. Rinse beans and pick through for any rocks, etc.  Put in a pot of water and bring to a boil.  Let boil about 5 minutes, turn off heat, and let sit in covered pot for 1-2 hours.

2. Chop up the bacon and place in a large Dutch Oven on medium-high heat.  Rend the fat from the bacon (cook for about 5-8 minutes).  Lower heat to medium, and add the chopped onion, celery and carrots (a classic mirepoix).  Saute for about 10 minutes until the veggies are soft and starting to brown. (Don’t cook them over too high of heat and start to burn the carrots like I did.)

3. I like to put my chopped garlic in a tiny bit of olive oil, stir it around, and then add it to the pot.  Cook the garlic for about 30 seconds until aromatic, and then stir it into the vegetables, and add the drained beans, the spices/herbs, the chicken stock, water, ham and ham bone.

4. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer.  I simmered the soup with the lid on for about 4-5 hours.  I removed the lid and simmered for another 30 minutes to help it thicken up a bit.  By then, the beans had broken down nicely, and the soup was nice and thick.  You might cook it a little less time if you don’t want it to be so thick (or add more water).

5. Remove the bay leaves and ham bone; and serve with bread.

* Note: if you don’t have leftover ham/ham bone, you could use a ham hock.

 

Any tips for me in my quest to learn to make soup?  I’d love to hear them!

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