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Basic Bean Soup: Waste Not, Want Not

In the beginning there was a ham bone with a good chunk of ham, left over from a family feast. (“Give it to Ann; she’ll do something with it”). Then there was the rich and delicious pan of scalloped Yukon Golds, cheese and ham, which I exploded in a display worthy of a low-budget Fourth of July spectacle. Today the ham goes to it’s heavenly reward as a pot of bean soup, to be served with corn bread. It is basic and unsophisticated, but does justice to the ham, uses good Michigan beans, and may even help us to face the cold weather – 12 degrees and dropping, as I speak. Not only is this good to eat; if you have a ham bone with some meat left on it, it’s as cheap as it gets – just a bag of dried beans and some vegetables.

There were even two beautiful hunks of bone after I removed the ham hock from the soup, which means that we will dine to the satisfied crunching of two well-pleased dogs.


Basic Bean Soup

(Adapted from


* 1 pound dry great Northern beans
* 8 cups water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 ham hock
* 1 cup chopped carrots
* 1/2 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 teaspoon mustard powder
* 2 bay leaves
* 2 cups chopped ham
* 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper


1. Rinse the beans, sorting out any broken or discolored ones. In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and the beans and remove from heat. Let beans sit in the hot water for at least 60 minutes. While the beans are softening, chop vegetables and (if necessary) remove ham from the bone and set aside.

2. After the 60 minutes of soaking, return the pot to high heat and place the ham bone, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mustard and bay leaves in the pot. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 60 more minutes. If you like, you may keep the soup simmering over low heat for longer; just add a little water if it looks more like stew than soup as the beans absorb the water.

3. Remove ham bone and discard. Stir in the chopped ham and simmer for 30 more minutes. Season with ground white pepper to taste. If you’ve added water, you’ll definitely need to season again.

12 responses »

  1. Ann,

    Nice strong metal pot.

    OK, youve had time to regain composure. How about typing the ‘Ode to Pyrex” verbatim sailorspeak.

    Come on.

    For the sake of reality blogging……….

  2. oh how I love this soup. It sounds wonderful! If it wan’t so darn cold I’d come over and steal a bowl

  3. I shouldn’t read this when I’m hungry–I just started to salivate. MMMM Bean Soup MMMMM. Looks sooo good. Sorry it’s so cold there right now. Here in San Francisco it’s like summer.

  4. Robert, I have to think about the “Ode to Pyrex.” I do engage inm sailorspeak, by the way, but it might shock my more delicate readers.

    Michelle, maybe we should “sync” next time; you make chicken soup, I’ll make bean soup, and we’ll trade halves.

    Eric, I thought it was always sort of medium-temperature in SF. I actually like winter (it is, among other things, an excuse to make lots of soup) but this is sort of Extreme Winter. It’s a bit much.

  5. Eric is half right about the SF weather…it’s been sunny and close to 70 degs for several days in a row.

    In the summer months, it is most often cool & foggy (here in the Marina). Mebbe Eric lives `in the Mission`, where The City’s best weather lives!

    That bean soup could be enjoyed in ANY weather!

  6. Hi Ann,
    Nice recipe. It will sure hit the spot during these cold months!. Sorry about your pyrex dish…but thanks for sharing that tip with us.
    I wanted to invite you to share your recipes and tips with us at Foodista. We also have small embeddable widgets that can help you build traffic from Foodista-related pages. Check it out here. Thanks!

  7. Actually I live in Glen Park-which sometimes get “Mission” weather and sometimes it’s foggy. Winter months usually are rainy here, but it’s been very dry lately and we’re back to watching our water consumption–this is not good because we need rain so badly and the “fire season” later in the year could be really bad. I hope not.

  8. The more I hear about SF weather, the more I think I should be living there. I don’t like too hot, and I don’t like it as cold as it is here right now, and I DO like it about 70. I also like fog and rain, which suit my Emo temperament.

  9. If you ever go into Glen Park Station for a beer or two, say `hello` to Tommy “Racket-Boy” McAvoy. He and I worked together many years, and played golf together even MORE years.

    Ann…I spent 2 1/2 hour at my `beach` today, it got up to almost 73 degs here in The Marina.

  10. you should be living here. period.

  11. Tony – I have to say that I am starting to imagine you and me and eric hanging out in SF…it’s not a bad picture. 🙂

    Eric – that would be a problem for any number of reasons but (I. would. love. to).

  12. Pingback: ‘Cause I’m Nibby Like That…. « Forest Street Kitchen

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