Deliciously creamy, simple and economical soup to have on hand for the thermos on a chilly Autumn or Winter day.
Let’s face it. There’s not a whole lot to making a pot of bean soup. Or is there?
Fortune struck me once again when I was out at the market and came across a bin of ham bones for a buck each from a maker or prosciutto. Did you see the twinkle in my eye there?
One of the best kept secrets of home cooking is the ham bone. I could possibly hoard them like silver dollars. In fact, I have even been known to buy a ham on the bone just to get…the bone. Ha! Then there was the time my husband trimmed the remaining baked ham for me and pitched the bone. Hell hath no fury…like a woman deboned.
Besides all the meaty flavor you can get from a bone, it adds lots of collagen to your food. Who doesn’t like collagen? Certainly not fairy princesses or beautiful women. But don’t worry if you want to toss together a pot of bean soup and have no ham bone. Good acceptable substitutes are other bones from pork, such as one from a pork picnic or shoulder blade roast. At those times using the pork in the beans instead of added ham is a plus. Besides that, there are always ham hocks, which although being fatty, do add flavor if not an extra step of skimming the soup. On a leaner note you could try using a smoked turkey wing or leg and adding that meat back to the soup, although the wing doesn’t yield as much meat as the drumstick. Besides that, there is bacon, but to really add enough to make the beans meaty, it is very high in fat.
- 1 pound great northern or other white beans
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch red pepper flakes (amount to your liking)
- 1 ham bone or other suitable seasoning, such as a ham hock or smoked turkey leg/wing
- 8 ounces chopped smoked ham
- 6 cups water
Note that you *could* add some chopped celery along with the carrot. I do like celery, just not so much in my bean soup. But it’s your soup-
- Sort beans and place in a dutch oven covered with a few inches of water.
- Bring beans to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Shut off heat, cover tightly and allow to sit for one hour.
- Drain soaked beans and return to pot with 6 cups of water, chopped onion, chopped carrot, 3 cloves crushed garlic, baking soda, black pepper, thyme leaves, and ham bone.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for one hour.
- Uncover and remove ham bone, pepper flakes and bay leaf, then partially mash some of the cooked beans.
- Stir in chopped ham pieces and any usable ham/hock/turkey from the seasoning meat, then cook until thickened, adjusting for salt before serving, if needed.
Time: 2 1/2 hours
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