Once upon a time, like, before I had kids, I went to a party at a friend's house. It might have been a bridal shower... I can't remember... Anyway, it was a pot luck thing, where we all brought sides or desserts, and the hostess and her family provided a couple of main dish things. One of which was a ham. At the end of the event, my friend's mom came out with the ham bone and asked if anyone wanted it for soup.
Now, at that time, I had never had ham. Don't ask.
Also at that point, I didn't know how to make soup. Not from scratch, anyway.
So, needless to say, I had no idea what my friend's mom was talking about.
If I could rewind time and go back to that day, though, I'd throw my hand up and say "Right here!!" and make this simple, delicious soup.
Just take your leftover ham. Perhaps from Easter. Perhaps not.
Put it in your stock pot with lots of water and a beautiful sprinkling of Herbes de Provence.
Turn up the heat and let all of that simmer.
While that is doing its thing, prepare some mirepoix. The recipe called for carrot, celery, onion and garlic. In a weird twist of weirdness, I was out of garlic (I know! So weird!), so I substituted leek.
Oh, and plan ahead - soak some white beans. I set mine to soak the night before, but a couple of hours is plenty.
Once the ham and herbs have simmered for an hour, add the beans and all those veggies to the pot and cook the whole thing for another hour or so.
The last step is to shred up the meat and discard the bone. But after that much simmering, that's a pretty easy task.
The result was a very hearty, very delicious soup that is a nice change of pace from the chicken-based soups we usually make.
So next time you're offered a ham bone, I hope you'll say yes - I know I will!!
White Bean and Ham Soup
(slightly adapted Simply Recipes)
2 quarts of water
2-3 lbs of ham hocks or shanks, or leftover ham bone with meat still on it
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (or Italian seasoning)
1 cup of diced onions (about 1 small onion)
1 cup chopped celery (about 2-3 ribs)
2/3 cup chopped carrots (about 1 medium carrot)
1 large leek, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley (for garnish, optional)
Place the beans in a pot and cover with clean, fresh water. Water should cover beans by at least 2 inches. Allow to soak overnight. Alternately, if you don't have as much time, fill a pot large enough to hold the beans with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the beans and soak the beans for about 2 hours. Drain the water.
Meanwhile, put the ham hocks or shanks in a large pot and cover with 2 quarts of water. Add the Herbes de Provence (or Italian seasoning). Bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour. Add the chopped vegetables and beans. Cook for another hour, until the vegetables are soft and the ham meat easily pulls away from the bone. Pull the meat off the bone and discard the bones.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a pinch of chopped fresh parsley for garnish, if desired.