Had your fill of ham and cheese sandwiches or omelets from all that leftover Easter ham?
Still have that hambone left? Well then make some soup.
This ham and bean soup made a soul-warming, satisfying and economical dinner during yesterday's dreary, drizzly weather here in Central New Jersey, with plenty left for the freezer. It looks like today's weather is no better, so this soup will still be season-appropriate.
A lot of recipes tell you to soak the beans overnight, but I find they're still rock hard the next day. Just save yourself the trouble and start out with the dried beans and boil them per the instructions below. They'll soften during the cooking. Just don't add salt until the end.
Bean and Ham soup
I leave a fair amount of meat on the hambone when I'm trimming the ham, knowing I'm going to be using it for soup. I also add little bits of leftover ham, maybe 1/2 cup to 1 cup or so. Hopefully, you've been saving the rinds of Parmesan cheese when you get near the end of a piece. They add great flavor to a soup. Pull one out of the freezer and drop it in the pot with the other ingredients.
1 pound dried small white beans
2 T. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 ham bone, plus extra bits of ham, if desired
10 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
pepper, to taste
1 rind of Parmesan cheese (optional)
Put the beans in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes on high heat to get rid of any scum. Drain.
In another pot, saute onions, celery, garlic and carrots until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the beans, but don't add the salt. DON'T add salt to a pot of dried beans or it will take forever to them to soften. Cook over low to medium heat for at least two hours. Remove the rind, the bay leaf and add salt.
Remove the bone and any meat that hasn't already flaked off. Put the meat back in the soup. You can eat the soup as is, or blend part of it with a stick blender to get a creamier texture.