The ham bone's connected to the soup pot
This hearty spring soup is a great way to use that leftover ham bone.
A ham is loved for more than just its meat — the bone is great for making soup.
After dinner, once the ham is pretty much picked over, cut up any big chunks of meat still attached to the bone into bite-size pieces along with any leftover slices. The chopped ham and the meaty bone can go into a freezer bag and into the freezer. (Use within one to two months.)
Many recipes call for simmering the meaty bone with dried beans that were soaked overnight; others used canned beans and a stock made from simply simmering the bone in water.
I opted for a stock version because I wanted the stock to simmer a while and develop flavor. And I planned on making the stock base one day and the soup the next.
I added aromatics such as parsley and thyme and big chunks of carrots and onions to the broth for flavor. When it came to making the soup, I skipped using dried beans because I had a jar of Great Northern beans on hand. You can substitute 1 pound dried navy or other favorite white bean in this recipe.
Dried beans are best soaked overnight — they will triple in size. If you're in a hurry, follow the quick soak method on the package.
Another reason I used the jarred beans was to thicken the soup. I drained and rinsed the beans, but reserved the liquid. If the soup is too thin, swirl some of the liquid into the soup to thicken it. Or puree 1/2 cup of the beans with the bean liquid or some of the stock and use that to thicken the soup.
Making a big batch of this soup is great to feed a crowd. If you make enough soup to freeze, place it in containers with about 1/2 inch of headspace, or freeze in bags. The soup should keep about two months.
Ham and bean soup
Prep: 15 minutes
1. For the stock, place hambone, water, parsley, onion, carrots and celery in a large stockpot. Place over medium heat until it just begins to bubble. Cover slightly; reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding more water if needed.
2. Remove the bone; reserve. Strain the stock; return to stockpot. Pick off any meat from the bone, discarding fat; chop the meat.
3. For the soup, heat the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, the leftover diced ham and any ham from the bone, and beans; heat over medium heat. Simmer until carrots are softened, 45 minutes. Just before serving, season with salt and pepper to taste; stir in the parsley.
Per serving: 164 calories, 20% of calories from fat, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 17 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 902 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.