Monday, January 3, 2011

Navy Bean and Ham Soup

It's kind of a tradition that after Christmas I make Navy Bean and Ham soup with the leftover Christmas Ham bone. It's yummy and tastes good on a cold winter day. Also this is a great way to use up all the good ham that is on the bone that you can't quite cut off for sandwiches. This is a combination of two recipes off of the food network, I took what I liked from both and combined them.
Sometimes I make bread bowls to put this in, but usually we just eat in regular bowls with crispy french bread on the side.

Navy Bean and Ham Soup
4 to 6 servings

4 (1/2-pound) ham hocks (or I used the bone from a shank portion ham with some meat still attached)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced  onions
1 stalk celery , finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound navy beans, rinsed, picked over, rinsed and drained
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes; remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Drain and reserve.
In a large, heavy stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, carrot, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute for 1 minute. Add the stock, salt, pepper, and parsley and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the ham bone and beans, bring back to a boil, cover, and adjust the heat so the soup cooks at a gentle simmer. Cook until the  beans and hock are completely tender, about 1-1/2 hours.

Turn off the heat and remove the hocks or ham bone. Cool slightly. Remove the meat from the hocks, discarding the bones, fat, and skin. Cut the meat into small cubes.
Puree about 3 cups of the beans with a some of the liquid in a blender. (For a smoother soup puree all the beans.) Stir the puree and diced meat into the soup. Heat the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

Pour into bowls, and serve with hot french bread.

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