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
- *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.