Ham and Bean Soup – the perfect comfort food…

Ham and Bean Soup – Step_by-Step Instructions

The first hint of cold weather makes me itch to make ham and bean soup. I love to fill the house with the mouth-watering smell of bones cooking to make the broth. This is true comfort food. My first pot of soup this year was ham and bean. Yum… I had two ham bones in the freezer, one with quite a bit of meat on it, and several containers of frozen stock from the last few hams I had cooked. I put all of this in a pot to simmer for about 4 hours.

I have used a pressure cooker for years to cook beans – do not soak the beans overnight if you employ this method. However, I do not make the soup in the pressure cooker, you can impart so much more flavor to your soup by cooking it in a pot.

Use the stock to cook the beans in, whatever method you use, and cook until tender. Do not salt the beans since the ham stock will be salty – you can adjust seasoning when you assemble the soup. While the beans are cooking; chop onions, celery and carrots and sauté them in olive oil. Clean the meat off the ham bones and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Once the beans are cooked, add the vegetables and meat.

Season with bay leaf, black pepper and 1-2 whole cloves. I use whole pepper corns and put them with the cloves in a tea ball so they do not end up in someone’s bowl. Simmer for at least one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Homemade bread or cornbread is all this soup needs as an accompaniment to make a hearty meal. Pair this soup with either a stout or a bourbon barrel aged strong beer – either will complement the smoky flavors from the ham. Enjoy!

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