April 9, 2012

Bean and Ham Soup

After having a week of 80+ degree days, this cooler weather makes it seem like fall!  I'm back to craving warm, comfort foods like soups and stews.  This simple recipe is a great way to use up that leftover ham from Easter.  I usually start simmering it in a stock pot full of water as soon as we clear the table.  That way, I can refrigerate the broth overnight so I can remove most of the fat the next day.  It's very good!  Great with a nice wedge of homemade cornbread!

1 ham bone
10 cups water
1 lb small white beans, rinsed and picked through
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh or dried garlic
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon chicken bouillon
pepper, to taste
diced cooked ham

Place the rinsed beans in a large bowl and cover with about 8 cups of water.  Let soak overnight.  Place the ham bone in a large stockpot along with 10 cups of water.  Simmer, covered, for at least an hour.  Strain the broth into a metal bowl. Cool a little then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled and the fat has separated.  For the soup:  Heat a large (6 or 8 qt) stockpot over medium heat.  Add canola oil to the pot.  Once the oil is hot, add the carrots and celery.  Saute over medium heat for 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are softened.  Add the minced garlic and saute a minute or two, being careful not to burn it.  Remove the ham broth from the refrigerator; skim the fat from the broth and discard.  Add broth to the stockpot, along with the bay leaf, brown sugar, bouillon and pepper.  Strain the beans and add to pot.  Stir well and raise heat to high to bring soup to a boil.  Once you reach a boil, reduce heat to medium low.  Cover and simmer over medium low heat for 2 - 2 1/2 hours until the beans are tender.  Add as much diced, cooked ham as desired and heat through.

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