Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Zippy 15-Bean & Ham Soup

As we start entering that time of fall and rainy, cool days here and there, I start to crave more soups and stews and warm, hearty comfort food.  This is a recipe that you don't have to feel guilty about going back for a second bowl either.  Its full of natural goodness that is well-seasoned and simmered to perfection.  And its a very inexpensive way to feed a hungry crowd.  Serve it with a crusty french loaf and you can serve about 12 hungry adults.  You do have to plan ahead because unless you have a ham bone (like a ham hock) in your freezer, you will want to make this a day or two after you use a bone-in half-ham like I did here.

You also need to soak your bean mix overnight to re-hydrate the beans.  Start with a great 15-bean mix like this one.  You can find this in the dry beans and rice aisle and its usually got a little spice packet in there.  The kind my local store carries is available with regular seasoning or Cajun.  Both are great but because of the kids I use the regular.  The bean packet usually has a great recipe on the back but I like to doctor it up with my own twist mine is a little different.  Soak your beans in a large mixing bowl of water overnight.  Remember that your beans will take a lot of water so you should just go ahead and fill the bowl with water to ensure there is enough.  In the morning, skim any floating debris from the top of the water.  Drain your beans and rinse really well.  Sift through to make sure there are no rocks or defective beans.  Then rinse really well again - you'll be surprised how much grit ends up at the bottom of your bowl each time.  Set your beans aside - they don't need to be refrigerated.
Place your ham bone or hock in a large pot and fill the pot about 3/4 with water.  You want to make sure that the majority of your bone is covered in the water.  Cover your pot and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer for about 3-4 hours until the meat basically falls right off the bone when you touch it.  You will have a really rich broth and the liquid will have reduced by about half.
With a slotted spoon, remove all the bone and meat from the pot until you are left with just the broth.  I like to spread it all out on a cookie sheet to cool for handling.  Add your beans to your broth. Then add enough water to fill the pot back to 3/4 full.  Bring it back to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

As the soup is coming back to a boil, add 3 chopped celery stalks (with the leaves), 1 cup or a regular size can of sweet corn kernels, and 1 large diced onion.  Because I have this fresh salsa on hand, I added two large scoops of that as well.  You can use store-bought salsa - about a 1/2 jar of medium salsa.  Also add one teaspoon mesquite grill seasoning, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Do not add salt - you will have salt from the smoked meat, the grill seasoning and the Worcestershire sauce.

When your meat has cooled enough to handle, remove all the bone and fat and shred the meat with your fingers.  You will be surprised at how much meat will come off the ham bone you thought you had trimmed really well.  A lot of the meat gets trapped in the fat close to the bone so when you boil it like this and separate the fat, you end up with a lot of nice tender ham.
When you've got it all shred, add it back to your pot.  Simmer your soup another 3-4 hours until all the flavors are well incorporated and all the fresh veggies are cooked down.  If you wanted more of a stew, you could whisk in a packet or two of powdered ham gravy mix or a flour roux to thicken it at the end.  Or you could use a submersible blender and blend it just a bit.  As long as you don't cook it down to the point where the beans are mushy, this soup freezes very well.

My entry into Blissful and Domestic's Feature Friday Link Party sponsored byAppliances Online.


Carole said...

I like your blog. I have just signed up as a follower. Please drop by to Carole's Chatter and check it out. You might like my Food on Friday series which focuses on a different ingredient. Last week it was Pork. This week it is slow cooker dishes. If you like my blog it would be great if you followed me back. Have a good week.

Carole said...

thanks for linking this in to Food on Friday, April. Cheers

Unknown said...

YUM! I love bean soup now after I figured out to use the ham bone. It imparts so much flavor and bean soup without it (like my mom used to make) is beyond bland!

Thanks for linking up with Healthy Tuesday's blog hop! Happy Tuesday.

Kerry from Country Living On A Hill