Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ham and bean soup

Few dishes are tastier than a hearty soup. Perhaps this is because the very best soups and stews are a collection of what you already know is the favorite around our house: Hmmm, what's available?

It's the week after Easter, so you had to know we'd be looking at using some leftover ham along with a bone.

My Guy and I have become proficient at creating soups which are a combination of leftover ham stuff with some beans from the bean jar, water, etc., Crock Pot ... few hours later ... BEAN and something SOUP!

Of course we'd started a couple of years ago with my dad's recipe (suggested ingredients/technique) and veered wildly away into the land of "but, we don't HAVE any ..."

Anyhow, we steered back this week with a trip through Actual Cooking.

I found this recipe at (click anywhere in this paragraph).
Having plenty more available than two little cups of ham to chop up and a HUGE bone with TONS of yummy goodness still attached, I doubled the recipe ... then sort of played with the recipe. What a surprise, I know.

So, here's what I did: One very thick (read not well-cleaned) ham bone, four cups chopped ham, five carrots sliced, three large stalks celery chopped, two pounds dry great northern beans, bay leaves (I used five), two large onions finely diced, about five large cloves of garlic put through a press, tablespoon or so of white pepper, the mustard called for in the recipe (doubled) and some oregano. Oh, and salt. And some white wine -- we added a couple of tablespoons, I think.

Soak the beans as directed in the recipe, then add about half an hour to the "cooking" time. Also, if you prep ahead as I do, with each ingredient neatly chopped or diced and placed in its own lovely glass prep bowl ... try like hell not to drop the damn bowl into the already-boiling soup. The splashing will surely burn your arm and it's very hard to retrieve a glass bowl from a pot of boiling beans. Crap. Again. I know.

Yeah, so finish this up, ladle appropriate amounts into bowls for you and your family (if they've been nice to you today) and enjoy!

Now tuck this recipe into your binder or Internet favorites and refer to it as a basic starting point any time you have some leftover meats that need to be used ... think red wine, pinto or kidney beans and starchy veg's for red meats and white wine, great northern or garbonzo beans and carrots and celery for white meats.

Keep in mind, too, there are no experts in my house. No cooking, crafting, sewing, growing, ferret corralling or cleaning experts ... what you read here is advice.

Take it with a grain of salt and a swig of lager.

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