It's been another little break between posts here and I've been missing my blog. I'm trying to find the words to talk about the events of the past week but right now...there aren't any. Not right now there's not. Like a lot of times in my life, as I've often shared with you here, I turn to soup. Somehow, the cathartic process of making soup and some random stirring is the one thing that feels right when things around you clearly aren't.
This soup came about simply by Mike's request. Happily learning something new every day, I found out that white bean & ham soup was one of his favorites. It was something my mom made often (and made well) but I had never attempted - outside of chicken soup, I tend to not use a lot of meat in my soups. The texture and heartiness of this was perfect for a dark, cold spell (literally and figuratively) here in Atlanta. While I used a pre-cooked piece of ham in my version, feel free to substitute smoked ham or ham hock on the bone - just removed and shred it. Just take into consideration it may add to the cook time if you do.
White Bean & Ham Soup - makes 8 - 10 servings
- 4 cups dry white navy/northern beans (these should be soaked at least 6 hours to overnight in enough water to cover them completely)
- 10 cups chicken stock
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 cups 1/4" diced carrots
- 2 cups 1/4" diced celery
- 1 large onion - 1/4" dice
- 3 cups diced ham - if using ham with a rind/skin around it, trim it off for use in the initial cooking stage of the beans
- small pinch smoked paprika - about 1/4 teaspoon
- small pinch dried red chili flakes - about 1/4 teaspoon
- salt and fresh ground pepper - to taste
- Rinse and drain thoroughly the beans that you soaked prior to making this soup. Remember, these need to soak at least 6 hours - overnight is preferable. Put beans, chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves in a large stockpot with a lid. Simmer for 30 - 45 minutes until beans start to get a bit tender.
- At this point, add your diced aromatics (celery, onion, carrots) and the rind of your ham, if you are using any. Simmer the soup for another 30-45 minutes until the beans are tender. Pull out thyme stems (the small leaves should have fallen off by now), bay leaves, and ham rind. Stir in paprika, red chili flakes, salt and pepper - tasting as you go.
- Simmer soup on low for another 45-minutes to an hour, stirring periodically and checking for doneness. You can stop the soup at any time when it reached desired consistency - some folks like their soup a little thinner than others. You can serve this immediately or allow it to cool, store it and eat later.