Let me create the scene for you...
It's cold out, MInnesota winter cold, probably snowing a little, there is a fire in the fireplace & all we want is something warm & satisfying for dinner that we can eat in front of it. A thick, stick-to-your-ribs soup would be just the thing. Luckily, there was a ham bone leftover from our pre-New Year's feast & we had lots of beautiful beans from Rancho Gordo that we bought while we were in San Francisco.
Ah, Ham & Bean Soup, perfection.
This soup is pretty much the U.S. Senate Bean Soup from Joy of Cooking. I wanted a real basic, traditional ham & bean soup. We used a ham bone instead of a ham hock. We also added quite a bit more chopped ham because we had it. The only other real change was to add some thyme which just seems to make everything better.
Ham & Bean Soup
1 1/4 c small dried white beans (we used yellow-eyed beans)
Pick through your beans for any small stones then place them in a pot. Boil a kettle of water. Pour the water over the beans until the water is 2-inches over them. Cover & allow to sit for until the beans are double in size, at least 1 hour. Drain. Now the beans are ready to use.
7 c cold water
1 ham bone
1/2 c diced ham (optional)
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 large potato, peeled & diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t dried thyme (I would have preferred fresh but mine had gone bad.)
salt & pepper
Place the beans, water & ham bone into a large soup pot & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer until the beans are tender about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the ham bone. Cut any meat remaining on it off & dice it. Return the meat to the pot.
Add the diced ham, onion, celery, potato, & thyme to the pot. Salt & pepper to taste.
Simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
Use a potato masher to gentle mash the soup until it is a little creamy.
Serve with crusty bread.
Makes 4 main dish servings