Monday, August 27, 2012

New Year's Day Bean Soup

I know this is an odd time of year to be sharing a recipe for something with "New Year's Day" in it's title, but I love this soup and make it year-round.  The name comes from the idea that you will make this soup with the leftover ham bone from your Christmas dinner.  Certainly that is a good plan, but what about the rest of the year when you just feel like some ham and bean soup?  Well, I simply buy a ham steak and dice it up.  Or you can get some ham hocks (which will add more flavor, but are more work to remove the meat).

My grandmother got this recipe from a co-worker a few decades back when you had to buy individual bags of each type of bean and then mix them together.  Now you can just purchase a bag of fifteen bean soup.

If you've never cooked with dried beans before, there are a few things you should know.  Most dried beans (legumes) need to soak before cooking to soften and plump them, but more importantly, soaking dissolves some of the sugars that can cause...negative gastrointestinal effects.  We all know the song about the "musical fruit," right?  Well soaking helps alleviate some of that. 

There are two methods for soaking: the long method and the short method.  The long method involves soaking the beans in a bowl, covered with cold water, for 8-24 hours (or overnight).  I recommend the long method because I think it's more effective and I've found the beans don't seem to get as mushy.  But if you forget to soak the beans the night before, all is not lost.  The short method is as follows (and quoted directly from my Betty Crocker Cookbook):  Place dried legumes in a large saucepan; add enough water to cover them.  Heat to boiling; boil 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for at least 1 hour before cooking.  Drain, then cook in clean, cold water.


1 (20 oz) bag fifteen bean soup
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. ham bone, ham hocks, or ham steak (diced)
1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large can (29 oz) crushed tomatoes (pulse in a blender if you don't like chunks of tomato)
1 tsp. chili powder
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic

Soak beans (see above); drain and add 2 quarts (8 cups) water and ham bone, hocks, or diced ham steak.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Add remaining ingredients and cook for another 30 minutes.  If using a ham bone or hocks, remove from pot, shred meat and return meat to pot.  Season with salt and pepper.

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