Classic Ham & Bean Soup must have super powers. Even though it has no arms, it hugs me just like the Boy in Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit hugs his favorite bunny.
I just ate a bowl full of this deliciousness and feel so darn cozy, warm & snuggly right now. I love it and especially love it served over a thick slice of skillet cornbread.
That’s what I’m talkin’ about!!
The main reason Classic Ham & Bean Soup affects me so strongly is it reminds me of my dad. My dad made the best Navy Beans & Ham (dad used navy beans). Every time I make bean soup, I picture Dad standing in the kitchen, lifting the ham bone out of the huge soup pot and picking the juicy meat off the bone. I see him tasting it, choosing the perfect seasonings and sprinkling to his heart’s content. He never followed a recipe – he followed his senses and always got it just right. Sadly, I never took notes or watched him as closely as I should have, but I think he would be proud of my efforts.
Classic Ham & Bean Soup is an ultimate comfort food for me. It reminds me of home. It reminds me of my dad.
*NOTE: Do NOT add salt until soup has cooked for an hour. Taste and add salt if needed.
1 lb Great Northern Beans, Navy or Cannellini beans can be substituted
Water to cover beans while soaking
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1-2 lb ham hock or ham bone
1-2 lb ham shank
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet yellow onion, peeled & diced
5 carrots, peeled cut into 1/8” slices
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/8” slices (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Parisien Herb or dried thyme
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1-2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (possibly, but taste first)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
3 bay leaves
4-6 bacon strips
Hot sauce - (optional)
Garnish: Chopped parsley or cilantro
Corn bread for serving
Rinse beans (remove any that are discolored). Fill a large pot half full with water and bring the water to a boil. Remove water from heat and add the beans. Place the lid on the pot and allow the beans to soak 2 hours, then drain the water.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil & 2 tablespoons butter in Dutch oven or soup pot.
Add carrots, onions and celery and sauté until tender.
Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
Add all soup ingredients except the beans to the vegetables and bring to a boil, then reduce temperature to LOW and simmer 1 hour. Stir periodically.
Drain the beans then add them to the soup. Bring to a boil, then reduce temperature to LOW and simmer 2 hours or until the meat begins to fall away from the bones. Stir periodically.
Remove the meat from the bones then place the meat back in the bean pot. Discard the bones.
When ready to serve, remove bacon strips and bay leaves.
If desired, add a dash or two of hot sauce.
Serve with corn bread and garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.