What goes with delicious Honey Whole Wheat Bread?
Ham and Navy Bean Soup, that’s what!
I had a soup revelation last week in, of all weird places, the overly fragrant Yankee Candle Store.
I was dashing in and out of the candle store before the scent overwhelmed me, when to my left I spied a Honey Baked Ham Store.
What better place to get a meaty ham bone than a ham store? I’d never tried this before but since my regular grocery store only sells smoked ham hocks (which are greasy and have no usable ham meat), I thought I’d go see if they had any ham bones for sale.
Let me tell you, I hit the ham bone jackpot! Not only do they have reasonably priced ham bones of all sizes, my store also has a deal where you buy a fresh ham bone and they give you a frozen one for free. Bonus ham bone for a later soup making day. Score.
(and no, this is not an advertisement for honey baked ham…or yankee candles…although it is an advertisement for good soup and cute cats)
Someone is eyeing my meaty ham bone.
I even trimmed enough ham off the bone before cooking to make a nice sandwich. And maybe a small cat treat too.
So let’s make soup. Here’s what you need:
Dried Navy Beans, Meaty Ham Bone, Onion, Carrots, Celery, Diced Tomatoes, Pepper, Olive Oil, Bay Leaves (both optional and not pictured), and Water (not pictured).
I stink at planning ahead when it comes to dried beans. Some people soak them over night. Others do a quick soak method – which still takes an hour. I just dump them in the soup and cook it a little longer until they are tender. This works particularly well with navy beans because they are smaller and more tender.
Start with the soup basics. Chop up one large onion.
Chop a couple stalks of celery…
and 3 or 4 carrots.
Out of habit, and because I think it also gives the vegetables a little more flavor, I sauteed the veggies.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat and saute the vegetables for about 5 minutes until slightly tender but not browned.
OR, you could just dump them in the pot and add the other ingredients and your soup will still be great.
Rinse and pick through 1 pound of dried navy beans to remove any stems or sticks and add them to the pot.
If you have a giant ham bone like mine, cut away any usable meat from the bone. You can add some of it back into the soup later if you need extra meat.
As I said earlier, my soup bone had so much meat that I had plenty on the bone for the soup as well as all this extra.
Plop the big old bone right into the pot and add 8 cups of water.
Add 1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes with their juices. Season with lots of freshly cracked pepper. Toss in a bay leaf or two if you have them for extra flavor.
For me, the ham is salty enough so I don’t add extra salt. If you’d like it saltier, you can always add more at the end.
Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally to keep the beans from sticking.
After about 2 hours, the beans should be nice and tender. Remove the ham bone (it has probably fallen apart so look carefully and try to remove all of the pieces of bone) and pick the meat off the bones.
At this point you have to decide if you like a brothy soup or a thicker soup. We prefer brothy with whole beans. However, if you’d like a creamier, thicker soup, remove a few cups of soup and beans and whirl them in the blender until smooth. When you add the blended beans back into the soup, you’ll have a thicker, creamier texture.
I like the easier whole bean approach. Add the ham pieces back to the soup, give it a taste and adjust the seasonings.
Serve it up with a hearty piece of bread for dunking.
Here’s the recipe: