"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: ham and bean soup

bean and ham soup . . .

It’s a fairly mild day in early October, warmer than it has been with the chilly rainy days we had last week. But the moisture has been great for the garden and the Montauk daisies are almost in full bloom.DSCN7159

These perennial plants are ubiquitous in Rockport, a town close to the ocean, and huge clumps of them can be seen all over town. They multiply and appear in the Fall in great profusion, a notable cousin to shasta daisies which bloom in the summertime. I bought some plants when we had a winter rental there and they are beginning to take hold in our garden this year.

Like the morning glories that we plant for their sky blue color which appear on the second floor deck on foggy mornings this time of year, these Montauk daisies 2Montauk daisies bloom after flowers have virtually disappeared from neighborhood yards altogether.

For some reason, I’ve been hankering for some bean soup that I saw advertised in a Vermont Country Store catalog that came in the mail yesterday. It boasted that its canned bean soup is still served in the Senate dining room. That’s U.S. Senate, I guess. I wonder if anyone is still eating anything there since there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on in the Senate these days. Anyhow, I decided to make my own bean and ham soup.

The recipes online called for boiling the beans, letting them sit (to make them less gassy) and to cook the beans with smoked ham hocks. When I looked at the package of smoked ham hocks in the grocery store, they looked rather gross with skin, bone, gristle and not much ham to speak of. They were almost black with 4-5 of them in a pack and I didn’t want to buy that many anyhow. So, for the same money, I picked up a thick slab of ham which I’ll cut in half and freeze the remainder to use in a batch of green pea soup later in the year.

The parboiled beans are now cooling on the stove. For this recipe, I will:

Cut the slab of ham into chunks and brown in unsalted butter

Take the ham out and saute a chopped vidalia onion in the ham/butter skillet along with a crushed clove of garlic

Add a couple of quarter-cut carrots and celery stalks with the onions

Tie together some sprigs of parsley and thyme from the herb pot on the back deck; add a bay leaf

Add back the beans and ham to the vegetables

Add 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 spring water to cover; add a small can of stewed tomatoes

second simmering in the soup pot . . .

second simmering in the soup pot . . .

Cook low on simmer for a couple of hours or so; add more broth/water as needed (I stored the soup in the fridge overnight and then started it simmering again the following day, adding spring water to the soup)

I decided to incorporate the ham pieces into the pureed soup rather than taking them out. When the soup cooled, I spooned all of it into the Vitamix and turned it on low. Gradually increasing the speed, it suddenly took off and turned the whole pot of vegetables, beans and ham into a coarse puree.

I put it all into a saucepan and added another cup or so of chicken broth to lighten the soup consistency a bit. I heated it up on very low heat so as not to burn the soup on the bottom. It tasted delicious. To go along with the soup, I toasted some English muffins, spread with butter and grated gruyere cheese, broiling them until golden brown and bubbly on top.

pureed bean soup . . .

pureed bean soup . . .






just in case . . .

People are predicting that “Sandy,” the perfect storm with the lowest pressure ever in combo with cold air coming from the north and warm gulf stream air entering from the south might become the biggest storm EVER. You know it’s serious when they shut down public transportation in New York City; evacuate people along coastal states, close schools and say you can work from home. Even the Court system in NYC will be closed today.

So, what I began doing when I woke up in the middle of the night around 3 a.m. was to start cooking the ten-pound ham that is not spiral-sliced, but an old fashioned, honest to goodness semi-cooked ham. I glazed it with Poupon mustard, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar on the outside. Baked it for almost three hours in a 325 degree oven while browning baby brussels sprouts in a skillet and steaming broccoli and cauliflower in another pan.

On the stove, I rinsed out the navy beans that had been soaking the day before, sauteed vidalia onion, carrots; put in a hambone from the freezer, adding spring water and chicken broth to make a hearty bean soup. There’s a head of lettuce and three asian pears for salad to offset the ham. Oatmeal bread and rolls should hold us for ham sandwiches or peanut butter too. There’s enough to share with family next store and tenants who live in the house.

In the freezer is a ten pound bag of ice which can go in a cooler to keep all this food chilled and safe to eat for a few days in case the power goes off.

While the vegetables were simmering, I brought in the wind chime that has sturdily kept going for almost ten years out on the back landing. And piled the flower pots together in the pantry too. There are a couple of Stanley tripod torches to give us light in case the electricity goes off. If it does, there’s always knitting or reading to do, and it will be a good test of how long we can live without being online!

So, this is about all I can think of to prepare for this impending storm. Maybe we won’t need it after all. Let’s hope so. I think it’s humbling to do what we can to prepare for this potential emergency, while recognizing that the magnitude of this storm (and its impact) rests completely in the hands of Mother Nature!

Afternote (31 Oct. 2012): Unlike many less fortunate, we were spared a power outage. So yesterday, slices of ham, vegetables, rolls, biscuits and soup went to family and friends. The ten pound bag of ice waits in the freezer for another day.