Wednesday, December 31, 2008

navy bean soup

this is the perfect soup to make after christmas, when you've had your fill of ham, but there is still a bunch of slices left over. my mom used to make this when i was a child, and i have very fond memories of eating this on cold winter days after playing in the snow.

you can make this with a ham hock and ham from the store, but it really is the best use of the leftover bones from a spiral cut. everything else that goes into this is pretty simple...but the process does take a day or two. it's well worth the wait though, this soup is stick-to-your-ribs filling, and very delicious.

be sure to read through the entire recipe before getting started. there are a few things that need to be done in advance.

ham stock ingredients:
the ham bone from a spiral cut ham (or one ham hock from your butcher)
1 onion, quartered
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
3 celery ribs, cut into thirds
salt and pepper

ham stock directions:
place the first four ingredients into a large pot and cover with cold water. bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook for several hours (at least 5, but it's easy to just leave this simmering on the stove all day.) as the water evaporates, add more to keep it full. stir occasionally and skim off any foam that may appear. once it's simmered for at least 5 hours, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. strain all ingredients to remove anything solid, let the stock cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

soup ingredients:
1 bag of navy beans
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
ham stock (recipe above)
leftover ham (or store bought ham), diced

soup directions:
soak your navy beans at room temperature for 6-8 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. this can be done concurrently with the stock.

place the soaked beans into a pot and cover with water. bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. cook for about 45 minutes and then drain.

place the cooked beans, onion, carrots, garlic, ham, and ham stock to a large stock pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. cook for about 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the flavors have come together. serve and enjoy!

this soup gets better as it sits in the refrigerator (like most soups), and is wonderful served with bread and butter. you could also make this in a crock pot by just skipping the bean boiling step and just putting everything into the crock pot for a few hours. however, this would result in a thicker and starchier soup since all of the starches from the beans would add to the stock.

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