Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Ham and White Bean Soup

Happy New Year, everybody! I hope your holidays were happy and healthy ones. I'm looking ahead to 2017 and making some changes.  First and foremost, We're making over our eating.  I've been working with a health coach all fall and she's given me some great advice on incorporating healthy grains, and reminded me of the importance of fruits and vegetables at every meal.  My daughter has had a conversation with her doctor about the importance of healthy eating, and we are fired up!

In other food news, we're getting half a pig any day now (I buy half a pig, several chickens, and, for the first time this year, a heritage turkey from my sister-in-law's every year - her family raises them on their farm), so in preparation for that I cleaned out the freezer during my Christmas break.  I discovered that we managed to eat most of last year's pig - I only found one slice of ham, a pack of cottage bacon (yay - love that stuff!), and a couple of packages of ham hocks.  The only thing I know to do with ham hocks is make white beans, so that was our New Year's Day dinner (always refreshing after a week of eating holiday leftovers and not-so-healthy New Year's Eve food!).  As always, I started with a basic recipe and made it my own...here's what I came up with.

Ham Hock and White Bean Soup
Serves 6

1 pound ham hocks
2 c. dry small white beans, sorted, rinsed, soaked and drained (I used a quick soak method)
2 T. olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs and all the leaves from one head of celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp. dried summer savory
2 tsp. dried thyme
3 dried bay leaves
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups low-salt or salt-free chicken stock (I use homemade)
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a 4 quart stock pot or dutch oven.  Add carrots, celery, and onion, and saute until just beginning to brown.  Add ham hocks, beans, garlic, spices, and chicken stock.  Add enough water to cover the beans by 1 1/2 inches.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are nearly tender, around 90 minutes.  Return to a boil, uncover, and cook until beans are cooked to desired tenderness (we like them a little thick, not too soupy).  Remove ham hocks from the soup, remove meat from bones, and return meat to the soup, stirring to combine.  Serve hot with crusty rolls.

It was delicious and I can't wait to eat the leftovers in my lunch today!

Happy 2017, all - hope it's a great one for you. 

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