|My Bean Soup, last evening|
|Mom & Dad's Bean Soup, 2001|
|ham bone and beans in the pot with water - note the line|
I don't recall Mom ever soaking the beans for the soup, and I never have when I make my own. Great Northern beans are best, though Navy Beans are fine. When Mom and Dad made the soup in later years, they started playing with the recipe a bit, using celery, which they never did when I was young, and sometimes substituting a bag of baby carrots for regular carrots, sliced. The soup will thicken as the beans are cooked for more than 2 hours. If you stop the cooking when the beans are just tender, the soup will not be as thick, though just as tasty. My preference is that the soup be so nice and thick you can almost stand your spoon up in it, but that is my choice.
Another thing my Dad always did, and I follow suit, is to add a little vinegar to the soup in his bowl. It really enhances the flavor of the soup. I know some may thing this is odd, but I love it, so give it a try. Anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon per bowl, to taste. This soup is heavenly good on its own, but a nice slice of bread with butter is a wonderful addition to the meal.
|The finished soup|
1 leftover ham bone, with up to 1 pound meat left on
1 pound Great Northern Beans, picked over and rinsed
1 large onion, diced
1 - 2 bay leaves
1 cup barley, preferably the long-cooking kind
3 - 4 large carrots, scrubbed, sliced in coins
2 - 4 potatoes, depending on size, peeled, cubed
3/4 - 1 cup ketchup
Put first five ingredients into a very large soup pot and add water. The ham bone should stick out by about 1/3 (note the line I made on the photo to show where the water line was). Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for about an hour or so. Add the carrots, potatoes and ketchup, cover and continue to cook for at least another hour or two, until soup is slightly thickened and beans are falling-apart tender. Remove the ham bone from the pot and set it on a plate. When cool enough to handle, break off all the meat and break it up into shreds. Discard the bone and any fat. Return the meat to the pot and stir in. Remove bay leaves and pass the vinegar!
My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest.