Sunday, December 07, 2008


Tonight's Menu

  • bean soup with ham
  • beer bread
DH and I have been in the mood for bean soup, even though he's totally allergic to it (yes, in addition to poultry and soy, he's allergic to BEANS). I had a big, meaty ham bone in the freezer (left over from Thanksgiving, see: allergic to poultry) so I decided to use that up in a nice big pot of soup.

What I did was buy one of those bags of 15-bean soup mix and discard the seasoning packet. I totally don't trust those seasoning packets, man. This one had soybean oil and hydrolyzed soy protein in it, which was reason enough for me to ditch it. (I think I had somehow convinced myself that the girl, who is violently allergic to soy, would want to try this soup. HAHAHA, what was I smoking?!)

Anyway, I kept the beans, obviously, and soaked them overnight. Then I drained and rinsed them the next day and set them aside while I got to work on the rest of the ingredients.

I chopped up half an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and sauteed them in some olive oil in a BIG pot. Before they were able to get any color on them, I tossed in two whole fresh bay leaves, several chopped leaves of fresh sage and a bunch of fresh thyme (all from my herb patch), along with maybe half a teaspoon of smoked paprika and half a tube of sundried tomato paste (1.5-2 tablespoons). Feel free to use regular paprika and plain ol' tomato paste from a can; I was using what I had. I stirred that around for several seconds until it started to smell AMAZING, then added the ham bone to the pot and dumped in the beans, along with a quart of vegetable broth (Pacific Organic -- again, it's what I had) and another quart of water. While that was coming to a boil, I stirred in some chopped fresh parsley (from the herb patch again!) and a tablespoon or so of brown sugar. I know, that sounds weird, but brown sugar goes great with beans and ham, y'all. TRUST ME.

Once it came to a boil I reduced the heat to low and just let it simmer away uncovered all afternoon. After two hours I removed the ham bone, scraped off the meat and diced it, then added the meat back to the pot. At that point I tasted the broth and adjusted the seasonings somewhat, adding the juice of half a lemon, a bit of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Altogether I cooked it for about 4.5 hours, tasting and adding more salt/pepper as needed and removing the bay leaves at the very end. Some of the beans broke down and thickened the broth quite a bit so that it was almost stew-like, which is just how I like it. If you like your broth a little thinner and your beans with more shape to them, you might want to only cook it for about 3 hours. Just be sure to taste, taste, taste as you go -- it's the only way to know when it's done to your liking and to get the seasonings right!

The girl wouldn't touch it, and DH had just a little taste, but the boy and I LOVED it and went back for seconds. I stirred just a tiny bit of sriracha into my bowl and washed it down with a cold glass of unfiltered apple cider and it was heavenly!

The beer bread is a favorite here. I only use half the butter called for in the recipe and it comes out just fine. This time I used Shiner Hefeweizen for the beer and it yielded a very tasty loaf that went great with the soup.

I expect this soup to be even better tomorrow, so guess what we're having then? Yep, leftovers!


Poppy Buxom said...

The lemon is key. Beans are so mealy and bland that something acid wakes them right up. TSMIM made black bean soup for lunch on Thanksgiving ... it was way too bland, so I stirred about half a cup of picante into it. Then it was good.

Badger said...

Sherry vinegar would have been nice too, but I didn't have any.