The other day my mother in law Joy called me to remind me that I had a ham bone in the fridge left over from Easter. Spiral cut ham is one of the many features of our annual Easter Brunch, and we always reserve the bone after we are done to make a soup.
We usually have 25-30 people show up which means we are dead for at least the next week, so making some soup is a nice simple way to enjoy some home cooking after the leftovers are gone.
This year while perusing the food aisle of the local Jewel-Osco I spied bags of a dried 16 bean mixture. Usually I go with traditional split pea, but I decided the cornucopia I ran into was worth trying instead this year.
I start up by boiling the ham bone in water with some salt, pepper, diced onions, carrots, celery, shallots, and minced garlic. For convenience sake I just reach into the fridge and use a scoop of the pre-chopped garlic.
I bring this mixture to a boil and let it simmer for 3-4 hours in a stock pot. When the water gets a little low I add some more. Once it is done simmering I remove the bone and dice up the ham and add it back to the mixture, be sure to remove all the bone.
The beans are simple, you either soak them over night, or you bring them to a boil and cover them for an hour so they soften up before you use them which works just as well. An hour in to simmering the bone and stock just add the beans, let them cook till they soften up to the consistency you prefer, and you are ready for some good eating. Oh ya, make sure you rinse the beans well before, and after cooking.
When the water gets a little low I add some more. Once it is done simmering I remove the bone and dice up the ham and add it back to the mixture, be sure to remove all the bone.
One thing I noticed was how expensive dried beans were, I mean $2.59 for a small bag? These things used to cost as little as .49. I guess if you like beans, and you have a dry place to store them like a bucket, you can buy them in bulk which seems to be the best way to shop these days. The chain super markets just kill you on most items. I mention this because back in college we could whip up a big batch of this soup for under a buck since they used to almost give away ham hocks and dried beans.
Meaty Ham Bone, or Ham Hocks
2 bags of dried 16 bean mix
Dashes of tabasco
No exact recipe measurements?
Thats right, just season and add ingredients to taste. Not smoky enough? Add a dash of liquid smoke.