Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Old Fashioned Bean Soup

A very big part of making a home is COOKING.  For me, there is nothing more satisfying that cooking a meal for people you love.  Almost more than anything I can think of -- cooking IS love. 

Which is why everybody should have one or two dishes they are famous for.  My sister Deena is a cookie baker extraordinaire.  Her family walks into her house, and they instantly look to a certain place on the counter to see what goodies lurk there.  It's not just a Christmas thing at her house...cookies, brownies, banana bread...there is always something delicious waiting to be snacked on.  It's like a little bite of love when you walk into the house...

Most of what I know about cooking I learned from my mother-in-law, Helen Farro.  In the early years of our marriage, Sunday Dinner at her house was always spectacular.  Wonderful pasta dishes... halupkees, perogies...many of her dishes live on in our family.

Helen taught me the joy of a gigantic HAM BONE!!  This was a major event -- after Christmas and again after Easter.  If you're doing it right , you will have bean soup in the freezer all year long...

Much of Helen's cooking relied on technique rather than recipes.  And making bean soup the old fashioned way takes a whole day...she saw no reason to rush things...

It starts with an overnight soaking of the beans (a pound of Navy Beans and a pound of Great Northern beans).  The beans will swell and soak up most of the water.

The next morning, drain and rinse the beans.

Put the beans, along with a very meaty ham bone, into your biggest soup pot.  Cover the whole show with fresh water -- and bring it up to a simmer.

I set my oven timer for 40 minutes...repeatedly..... Whoever happens to be in the kitchen gives the soup a stir, skims off the foam and resets the timer.  Keep it just below a boil...and leave the lid on, but cocked at a big angle so the steam can escape. (but all the water doesn't evaporate).

After the first two hours --  remove the ham bone and (when cooled) pick the meat off.  The flavor from the bone is all in the pot now -- so tear the ham meat into bite-size pieces, and put the meat back in the pot.  Discard the bone and move forward with the soup.

After another two hours, the beans are tender. Then add chopped veggies: onions, celery and carrots. (at least a cup of each -- depending on your own personal taste.)

Because I like an orange color to my bean soup (and a little spicy heat) -- I add two cups of salsa.

Now, it's beginning to look like soup. To thicken it, use a potato masher to smash some of the beans.

At this point, season the soup (translation: add salt)...

AND, if it's not thick enough, you can shred a raw potato into the pot. That will thicken it very quickly.
I didn't take a picture of my own gigantic pot of bean soup -- but THIS is what you're going for!!
The house smelled wonderful...

I am delighted to report the soup was delicious!!

We ate it for two days.AND I got three gigantic bags to put in the freezer.  Last fall, I blogged about how to freeze soup...read that here...


1 comment:

  1. I have to admit, I make an awesome bean and ham soup myself. Twice a year - a week after Christmas and a week after Easter :-)