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Time to use that ham bone

After Christmas dinner, I wrapped up my ham bone with ham on it and placed it in the freezer.

No sooner were the festivities over and decorations down than the cold weather set in. Truthfully I was happy to see it.

Those few days gave me the perfect opportunity make soup.

Besides vegetable beef, my favorite soup is bean soup made with dried navy beans or white northern beans.

This recipe also freezes beautifully, so do what I did and make it on the weekend, and put it in containers in your freezer for a quick warm dinner anytime.

Be sure that you note that the soup itself cooks in the oven. I usually make my stocks in tall stock pot, but because I believe in using as few pots as possible when I cook, I made this soup in shorter wider pot that would fit in my oven.

 

White bean soup

Stock ingredients:

1 large ham bone

1 large yellow onion; quartered

3 stalks celery, cut into 3-inch pieces

2 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces

2 bay leaves

20 whole pepper corns

6 quarts of cold water

 

I cut off as much of the ham as possible to add back into my soup at the end. Place all of the above ingredients into a large soup pot and cook over medium heat. Bring as close to boil as you can without it actually boiling and turn down on low, cover and cook for three hours. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour the cooled stock through a mesh strainer. Remove any small pieces of meat from the ham bone and set aside with your other ham. Discard all other solid ingredients.

This is a pretty concentrated stock, a little salty but very flavorful, so I divided it in half and put one half in the freezer.

 

Soup ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 of a white onion, chopped

Small stalk celery, split down the middle and then cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 small carrot, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds

1/2 pound dried navy beans, rinsed and picked over

Ham from your ham bone

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Half of the above recipe of stock

1 quart of water on simmer

 

Turn on your oven to 300 degrees and lower your rack. I take out my top oven rack and lower the bottom one. Rinse your soup pot and place over medium heat. Heat your olive oil and add the onions, celery and carrot and sauté until the onion becomes clear, do not brown. Add the beans, the stock and all remaining ingredients except the water.

Bring the soup to vigorous simmer, do not boil. Cover and place on the low rack in your oven. Cook for about 4 hours. I checked mine every hour and added just enough of the simmering water to keep the beans well covered. Halfway through the cooking time, when you are stirring and checking the liquid level, check your seasonings. Don’t add salt until closer to the end, because the stock can be salty.

 

Christina Hall writes a food column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.