I cannot believe it!! Newsflash!!! I actually, finally, like ham ‘n bean soup now! Still in shock. I hated that dang stuff my whole entire life. Wouldn’t go NEAR it. I could make it just fine and all, but never took the time to really make it. You know? Just the bare, basic, minimum kind. Northern beans, leftover Christmas ham, water, onions, salt and pepper. That was pretty much it. The old-fashioned, down-home kind that included the meaty bone and a ham hock or two.
And please don’t get me wrong, not dissing it at all, it just wasn’t my glass of sweet tea if you get my meaning. Not everything is for everybody.
And it wasn’t the ham part that I didn’t care for, (LOVE me some ham!), but it was the beans mostly, and the whole, pretty much bland, vat of soup that didn’t have a whole lot of flavor really, excepting for the obnoxious amount of pepper “to make it taste better”, that just made me gag even thinking about it. Noooooo thank you. And the dry, “pea gravel” cornbread that accompanied it wasn’t a whole lot better, either.
Soooooo, anyways, I decided to play. I didn’t want to ruin it mind you, take anything away from it’s authenticity by adding a bunch of junk just to add it and end up trying too hard and over-doing it. Not the plan at all. I just wanted it to taste like it could, like I hoped it would, like it should. And that it did. BOY. Did it ever.
I really had fun on that icy-cold Saturday morning, playing in my cozy kitchen in my flannel jammies and slippers, with my curious and greedy kitty under my feet constantly hoping for an “accidental” drop of a piece of ham now and then. And I think the whole, warm ‘n fuzzy atmosphere put me in the mood to finally just take it home! Really set my mind to thinking about what I wanted it to taste like. And not breathe a single WORD of what I was doing, to my unsuspecting hubby! 😉 If he knew what I was doing to “his” pot of soup, it might not have ever happened. Ha! Sometimes, overly traditional just needs a sledgehammer.
Anyways, all’s well that end’s well and this pot of ham ‘n bean soup ROCKED. It rockabillied all the way to the Appalachian Mountains!! My southern-midwestern accent even started coming back! Ok, that might not be a good thing. But trust me when I tell you, you’ve never had bean soup quite this good. I promise you’ll love it. Even my hubby, a.k.a. “Mr. Picky Pants”, was “quite pleased” and made a point of asking several times if I had written down the recipe! Thankfully, I did. 😉
So, now I’m very happy to share it with you all! I do hope you enjoy it as much as us and turn ham ‘n bean haters like myself into lovers instead! 😉 😀 Perfect timing with this nasty arctic blast vortex thing slamming the country, and leftovers in the freezer from the holidays to use up! The ONLY thing I like about cold weather – – the soups!! Have a wonderful day all, and be sure to check back tomorrow, because I revamped some homemade cornbread to boot! 😉 Take care and stay warm!! 🙂
*UPDATE! I have recently taken this to an even higher level! YEP! I use Better Than Bouillon’s Ham Base, and Minerva Dairy’s Smoked Butter!! And it’s AMAZING!!! Wow!!
- 1½ lbs. (1½ 16 oz. bags, 3 cups or 24 ounces) Great Northern Beans (*soaked, rinsed and drained)
- 9 cups (new) hot water
- 3 cups diced ham plus meaty hambone and 1 small ham hock (total weight incl. large and small bones = 4 lbs.) *or 2 (1½ pound) fully cooked ham steaks if you want a seriously meaty soup!
- 1 large onion, diced chunky
- 1 Tbl. minced garlic
- 1 Tbl. Superior Touch Better Than Bouillon Ham, Chicken or Pork Base
- 1½ tsp. Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning
- 1½ tsp. coarse ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp. onion powder
- 1 large bay leaf (or 2 small)
- 1 Tbl. real butter or (*smoked butter) by Minerva Dairy
- Prepare beans one of two ways:
- Overnight Soak Method (best): Place the beans into large pot and add 9 cups cold water. Cover and let set overnight. Stir and remove any beans that float to the top. Pour into colander and rinse well with cold water. Drain. Place back into rinsed pot.
- Quick Soak Method: Place the beans into large pot and add 9 cups hot water, bring to a rapid boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans with cold water. Place back into rinsed pot.
- *No matter which method you choose, make sure you skim off any few beans floating on the top before drained. Those are the "bad ones". (And any empty bean skins).
- Once beans are prepped and back into pot, add the 9 (new) cups hot water and rest of ingredients except butter. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Place lid on tilted, turn down heat to low, and gently simmer for 2 - 2¼ hours. Stir gently only occasionally and remove large hambone once meat falls off. (Break up meat into smaller, bite-sized pieces.)
- After 2 - 2 hours and 15 minutes and beans are tender, remove ham hock and trim meat off adding to pot. Stir in gently so you don't break up beans. *Breaking up a little is ok because it helps thicken it. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
- Ladle into bowls and serve piping hot with buttered cornbread.