Friday, December 10, 2010

The Squirrel Can Cook - Ham & Bean Soup

It is winter. And, here in the woods, we’ve been enduring wintery weather for many weeks now. When the weather is cold and blustery, nothing hits the spot quite like a nice hot bowl of soup. My two favorite soups are vegetable beef and ham & bean. Sometime soon, we’ll make a batch of vegetable beef soup, but, today, we’re going to have some ham & bean soup.

(If you’re daring, you can ask Mrs. Squirrel about the time, when we were still dating, when I went to her place for an evening of television after I’d been enjoying several days of my Mom’s ham & bean soup. She married me anyway…)

Our ingredients are:
6 cups of dried beans (I used a mix of beans I had in my pantry; everything from kidney beans to pinto beans to navy beans.)
2 pounds of cooked ham, diced.
2 onions, chopped fine
1 cup of chopped celery
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of The Squirrel’s Low-sodium Cajun Spice Blend
3 14-oz cans of chicken broth
2 cups of water (well, with all the soaking and rinsing and such, you'll likely need lots more than 2 cups of water -- but 2 cups is what you'll need for the final soup preparation...)

First, measure out, wash, and soak your beans overnight. Place the washed beans in a large bowl and fill with cold water to a depth of 2 to 3 inches above the level of the beans. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator. I like to soak beans for 8 to 10 hours.

After they’ve soaked, it is time to cook the beans. The beans really need to cook a good long time; 2 ½ to 3 hours total. Drain the beans and give them a good rinse, then place them in a large stock pot. Fill it with cold water until water covers the beans to a depth of 2 inches. Over medium-high heat, bring just to a boil, stirring frequently. When they’re just starting to boil, reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 1 ½ hours.

After 1 ½ hours, remove the beans from the heat, drain, rinse well with cold water, and return to the stock pot.

Sauté the onions, celery and garlic, and add to the beans, along with the diced ham. Then add the 3 cans of chicken broth and the two cups of water. Stir thoroughly, and heat over medium-high heat, just until it starts to boil. Reduce heat, stir, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Stir well every 15 minutes or so.

After an hour, serve and enjoy! Makes more than enough for the aforementioned 3-days worth of soup…

The Squirrel shall not live by bread NUTS alone!

post signature