One of the most delicious ways I've found to use up leftover ham is to make a big pot of this fantastic soup - the beans are so creamy and the broth is so full of flavor that your guests will definitely want seconds! If you've never made ham stock, have no fear - it's extremely easy. I like to use dried beans, but if you must, you can use canned beans - just don't tell me about it.
Step 1 - Make the Ham Stock:
We start by making the ham stock. Place the ham bone in a stockpot and cover with 10-12 cups of cold water. Add 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (skin and all), a couple of cloves of garlic which have been smashed, a tablespoon of dried parsley (or fresh parsley stems if you have them), and 2 bay leaves.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 60-90 minutes. In the meantime, begin step 2.
Step 2 - Pre-soak the Beans:
Sort and rinse 1 pound of dried beans. Place them in a soup pot large enough to cover with 2 inches of water. I used a mixture of half pinto and half navy beans. Turn the heat on high and bring to a boil. Do not add any seasoning at this point.
The beans will begin to float shortly before the water boils.
When the water begins to boil, turn the heat off, cover, and let the beans soak for 1 hour.
This is what the beans look like after soaking for an hour. They've plumped up a bit and are beginning to soften, but they aren't soft enough to eat yet. Discard all the cooking liquid and reserve the beans for step 3.
Step 3 - Make the Soup:
Saute the onions and carrots in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until softened and beginning to caramelize.
Add 8 cups of ham stock, half of the remaining dried parsley, bay, ground black pepper, and thyme (no salt yet). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to to a gentle roll and cook for 1-2 hours, or until the beans are soft and creamy; stirring occasionally. Add the remaining parsley and diced ham; season with salt if needed. Continue to cook for a few minutes until the ham is heated through. Enjoy!
ButterYum's Ham and Bean Soup
For the Ham Stock:
10-12 cups cold water
1 medium onion, roughly chopped (onion trimmings and skin too)
4 cloves of garlic, smashed (just give them a good whack to make them split open)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried parsley
For the Soup:
1 pound dried beans - pre-soaked overnight, or quick-soaked as directed below
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
8 cups ham stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley, divided
3 cups leftover ham, diced into bite-size pieces (about 1 pound)
salt to taste (don't add until serving)
This entire soup can be ready in as little as 3 hours. Start by placing your ham bone in a stock pot and cover it with 10-12 cups of cold water. Add the onions, garlic, parsley, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the quick soaking process for the beans (next step) is done (60-90 minutes).
Skip this step if you thought ahead and soaked your beans in cold water overnight. Otherwise, it's time to pre-cook your dried beans. Rinse in cold water and remove any icky looking beans, stems, small stones, etc. Place the beans in a pot large enough so they can be covered with 2 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, let beans soak for 1 hour, drain, reserve. The beans should have swelled quite a bit and should be softening, although they shouldn't be soft enough to eat yet.
To proceed with the recipe, in a 6-quart or larger soup pot, saute the onions and carrots in a tablespoon of olive oil until softened and edges start to caramelize. Add the reserved beans, 8 cups of ham stock, bay leaf, thyme, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of dried parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a gentle roll and cook for 1-2 hours, or until the beans are soft and creamy; stirring occasionally.
Add leftover ham and remaining dried parsley (1 tablespoon); heat cook for a few minutes more until the ham is heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a big hunk of chewy bread. Heaven!!
Note: 1 pound of dried beans equals about 3-4 cans of rinsed and drained beans. Leftover ham stock can be frozen for future use, or you can use it to cook dried beans which can also be frozen for future use.