Wednesday, October 22, 2008
ABC's of Soup
Traditionally, soups are ideal for large families because they can be easily stretched for drop-in guests by adding more broth or water. They also keep well and reheat nicely for latecomers. Mom always used her largest cooking pot for soups. It was such a treat to come home from school on a cold windy day to smell soup cooking on the stove. Soup also allows the cook to combine any leftover meat or vegetables into the latest batch of soup to create a wonderful variation on the original. Years later, cold winter days continue to evoke yearnings for hearty hot soup.
NAVY BEAN & HAM SOUP
A meal of bean soup & corn bread makes an easy, hearty dinner that our whole family enjoyed. Mom added Fennel Seed to the soup to help offset the "side effects" of the beans. It took me years of practice to finally create a soup that is fairly reminiscent of Mom's version.
1 pound Navy Beans
1 Onion, diced
1 Cup Celery, sliced
1 can diced Tomatoes
1 meaty Ham Bone
8 oz. diced Ham
4 Cups Tomato Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 whole Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds, optional
Cornbread prepared from scratch or a packaged mix, optional
Rinse and sort dry beans, removing any shriveled beans or foreign matter. Soak beans overnight in large pot, OR heat to boiling in large pot, remove from heat and let set for 1 hour.
Drain water from beans.
Add all remaining ingredients and fresh water to cover all.
Heat just to boil, then reduce heat. Cover & simmer soup for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occassionally, until beans are tender. Add more water or juice as needed. Do not boil, or beans will burst.
Remove Bay Leaves before serving. Serve with hot cornbread or saltine crackers.
If no Ham Bone is available, add a teaspoon of Liquid Smoke and more diced Ham.
Omit Tomatoes & use water instead of Tomato Juice.