07-22-2005, 06:33 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Location: The bustling metropolis of Butler NJ
Weekend Red Bean and Ham Soup
This is one of my favorite soups. I developed the recipe with inspiration from a Creole Cook Book. I have modified it quite a bit but the basics are recognizable from the original. I call it my weekend soup because I usually make it on Saturday and bake some crusty French bread. We have a dinner of fresh bread and this very hearty soup and a nice green salad. We have the soup again for lunch on Sunday while watching the football games. It is a perfect way to spend a chilly early winters weekend. I also find it is the perfect soup after a day of skiing. This recipe is very easy to double (if you have a large enough pot) and so I make it when there is a large winter gathering at my home.
a) 1 pound of dry red beans
b) 4 quarts of water
c) 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
d) ½ cup of coarsely chopped bell pepper
e) ½ cup chopped celery
f) 2 tablespoons of minced garlic (more or less to taste) I use the minced garlic in a jar myself. It is fast and easy. Yes, I know it is cheating.
g) 3 bay leaves
h) 2 tablespoons of minced parsley (I always use fresh, the dried stuff in the jar just does not give the right flavor)
i) ½ teaspoon thyme
j) ½ teaspoon of chili powder (again, more or less to your taste, I use more)
k) ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (see above)
l) 1-teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.
m) 1 tablespoon of salt (I know this sounds like a lot but it is the right amount. If you are concerned with sodium intake use less and flavor as you cook)
n) 4 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
o) 2 ½ pounds of boneless smoked ham cut in large (2- 2 ½ inch) cubes. DON’T CUT IT IN SMALL PIECES YET!!!
(I use a Local brand of smoked ham that is sold in a clear plastic wrap. I think it says Maple cured or some such thing on the label. I always remember it when I see it. Don’t use canned ham of any type. It is injected full of water and imparts little taste to the soup.)
Making the Soup
Put all the ingredients in a large soup pot with the water and bring to a boil. After it comes to a good rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer, cover and continue to cook for three hours. After three hours the beans should be good and soft. Remember to give a good stir every so often so the good stuff does not stick to the pot. You do not want this to scorch or burn. You can add water a little bit at a time if it gets to thick. I have never had to add water but the original recipe say this so I leave it in!
Remove from the heat. Remove the chunks of ham and set them aside for now. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
Using a blender or food processor, purée the remaining solids. Make sure you save all the liquids. Add the puréed solids back to the liquid (I sometime save a couple of ladles worth of beans to put back in the soup whole for added texture. I use a large Chinese "spider" to dig out all the stuff for pureeing so I don't have to try pouring it through a colander in to another pot. DON"T DISCARD THE LIQUIDS WHAT EVER YOU DO!!
If you have a submersion blender you can do all this in the pot. Just remove the bay leaves and the ham and blend away!
Chop the ham in to bite sized chunks and add back to the soup. Return the soup to the heat and give a taste. Adjust the seasoning to your tastes and serve.
For a grownup spin, a little dry sherry added just before serving takes this soup to another level! The soup is also tasty with s squeeze of fresh lemon or a shot of hot sauce
The soup keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week but remember to give a good stir before heating or the solids will burn at the bottom. I also remember to give a good stir before serving. The soup separates very quickly.
Variations on a theme:
You can also use lean smoked sausage of one type or another or smoked turkey in the soup instead of the ham. Make certain you use fairly lean meats. This soup will not benefit from the addition of fatty meats. In any case, keep the proportions the same, about 2 1/2 pound of meat.
The soup also freezes reasonably well.
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