Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ham and Bean Soup

I pulled that ham bone left from Thanksgiving out of the freezer the other day and made my twice yearly bean soup. This soup might be a little different than recipes you see because I add paprika and dried mint to mine. The mint really gives the soup a great flavor. Sometimes I use smoked ham hocks or smoked neck bones for the broth which gives it a smoky flavor.  If you don't want to use dried beans, substitute about four 15 ounce cans and skip that step. Drain three cans of the beans but include the liquid from one can in the soup.

1 lb dried northern beans
1 ham bone ( or 2 ham hocks or a few smoked neck bones)
2 bay leaves 
3 Tbl olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 3 Tbl. paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 cups ham broth
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup bean broth
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 to 3 tsp dried mint
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 to 4 cups diced ham
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight in water to cover.  Drain the beans, rinse and cook them covered with water 45 minutes to one hour until tender. Reserve about 1 cup of the bean broth.
For the ham broth, simmer the bone in about 3 quarts of water with the bay leaves for about an hour. Remove the bone and pick off any meat and reserve.

In a large soup pot saute the onions, celery. carrot and garlic until softened.  Add the paprika, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and continue to saute a few more minutes.  Add the ham, chicken and bean broths to the pot.  Add the cooked beans and ham. Bring up to a simmer and add the dried mint. Continue to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Add the parsley and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. ( if you want a thicker, creamier soup take an immersion blender to the pot to break up some of the beans)

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