- bean soup with ham
- beer bread
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!