Ramble On

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Pork Diaries: Leftovers

When we had some of the ham last week, we found there was a lot leftover, even after a couple of meals.  After all, there are only two of us.  One of the things we decided we could do - and actually this has been part of the grand plan all along - was to make some soup.

Because we saw the temperature drop a little bit right at the time I was preparing to make the  soup, I decided on a hearty ham and bean soup.  I make this soup all the time, after learning how to make it from my mom, but the difference this time was that it was my hog that we were cooking with.  So this was a special ham and bean soup.

You've probably seen the bag of beans in the store - there is one variety that calls itself 15 bean soup, and that is the one that I buy.  There's a recipe on the bag, but I only use that as a starting point, and most of the time I can either make this from scratch or with the ingredients we have on hand.  And there is a photo here of what I used in this batch - including the secret ingredient Yeungling Black and Tan.

I cut the leftover ham into half-inch chunks, and mixed in some vegetables (usually I only add onions, but you can see I added celery and carrots to this batch).  After cooking the onions down a bit with olive oil, until they're beginning to be transparent, I added the vegetables, ham, and a mix of vegetable stock and beer.  I brought that to a boil, then added the beans, which had been soaked overnight, and a can of crushed tomatoes.

I brought that back up to a boil and let if go for about 10 minutes, then turned the heat down and let it simmer on low for an hour.  That's all there is to the technical cooking.  You can spice this up as you like, but basically I use garlic, salt and pepper, and then a dash of chili powder - I didn't use much salt this time because of the ham.  Sometimes towards the end, there's a need to add a little something to taste - but that's to suit the cook.

If you haven't made bean soup before, this is a straightforward dish right of the recipe on the packaging.  After you've made it a few times, you might find your recipe evolving, just as mine has in the 25 or so years I've been making this.

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