How was your Christmas ham? Delicious, right? But you had sooooo much left over that you’ve been having ham sandwiches, ham omelettes, creamed ham over toast, and you’re even considering leaving it on the neighbor’s front porch with the last of the zucchini from your garden. You’ll be happy when it is finally gone! Well, I have a secret weapon so that you can stop trying to be creative in how to serve it at yet another meal: Hearty Ham and Bean Soup. This vintage recipe adapted from The New Antoinette Pope School Cookbook (1961)* will enable you to use up the rest of your ham and toss it into the freezer to savor on a chilly evening when you don’t feel like cooking.
The original Hearty Ham and Bean Soup recipe called for a hambone. If you had a bone-in ham, go ahead and toss it into the pot. But, it isn’t necessary. I used about four cups or so of ham chunks and pieces. Since I didn’t worry about whether the ham was uniform, it made for a more rustic and authentic looking soup.
Hearty Ham and Bean Soup lives up to its name. Unlike the canned soup that claims to be satisfying, a cup of this soup really filled us both up. This is the time of year when everyone is making Hoppin’ John, but we’ve decided that this year we are going to tempt fate and have the ham and bean soup on New Year’s Day. We’re going to call it “Hoppin’ Julie.”
- 1/2 pound navy beans (1 1/4 cups)
- 6 cups warm water
- About 4 cups of coarsely chopped ham
- 1 onion, chopped and sautéed in 2 Tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup shredded raw potatoes
- 1 cup chopped celery and celery leaves
- Salt, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/2 cup green onions and tops, sliced
- Soak beans according to package directions
- Combine all ingredients except tomatoes and green onions in a soup pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately three hours, or until the beans are very soft. Add water if the soup begins to get too thick. If the soup is too thin, simmer uncovered for a few minutes until it is the right consistency.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Add tomatoes and green onions. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 more minutes. Serve
- The less starchy potatoes are a better choice for this recipe.