Mar 01 2008

Bean Soup Recipe.

Published by at 1:32 pm under In The Kitchen,Recipes

Most of the time I take my recipes from books or off the internet, and I don’t mess with them. That’s because I am fairly ignorant of how tastes fit together and what compliments what and all that stuff that you learn by cooking a whole lot and paying attention. I don’t really pay attention. I look for certain ingredients or themes in my recipes that give me an idea of if I’ll like them, then I make them verbatim. If I like it, I keep making it. If not, I don’t. As I get more familiar with something, I might start tinkering here and there, but that’s pretty rare.

That being said, this is probably the first recipe that I’ve “made up” – meaning that I didn’t find the recipe anywhere. The Man really likes bean soup. I’ve been indifferent to it, mostly because the recipe I’ve been using is rather bland. It was basically beans, ham, onions, and water. Not much there for flavor. So, last night I decided to sit down in front of my cupboards and see what there was to make it better. Here’s what I came up with.

Bean and Ham Soup

One pound dry navy beans
2 cups diced ham (Use leftovers, or if you’re like me and don’t cook ham that often, buy pre-diced at your local grocery. Look near the lunch meats.)
One large yellow onion
Three cloves minced garlic (I just use the stuff that comes in a jar – not dried, but pre-minced. It’s in the produce section of my grocery.)
2 (10.5 oz) cans chicken broth
2 1/2 – 3 cups water
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt (see notes below)
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. basil
Grated Parmesan (optional)

Soak one pound navy beans in cold water overnight.
Drain beans and place in stock pot.
Dice the onion. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until browned. Add to pot.
Add remaining ingredients except Parmesan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or until beans are tender. Add additional water during cooking if necessary. Remove bay leaves when cooking is complete, and serve topped with grated Parmesan, if you like.

You could also add several sliced carrots and several stalks of sliced celery. I didn’t, because The Man doesn’t like celery and he doesn’t think carrots belong in bean soup, but they will add a little more aroma and flavor.

Regarding the salt: You may need to add more or less, depending on what kind of broth and ham you use. The ones I used were pretty salty, and I didn’t realize that until the whole thing had been cooking for a couple hours. By that time it was too late to take the salt out and the broth was more salty than I would have liked, although The Man didn’t have a problem with it. Next time I’ll probably wait until the last half hour of cooking, give it a taste, and add the salt (if needed).

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