Food, Fun and More

Bones to Soup – Recycling in the Kitchen

There’s nothing like a second-hand ham bone. It is a sure sign of a true friend when they know how excited I’d be to get one. Some might see skeletal remains, but I see good ole bean soup. 
This particular ham bone had more than one stop on its journey to my Dutch oven. It started out as Christmas dinner and then was passed on to a brother of the hostess, who passed it on to me. I promised to share, once the soup was made.
I’m one of those cooks that uses a little of this and little of that and measures in the palm of my hand or with a pinch and sprinkle. So there isn’t a real recipe for my bean soup. The prime ingredients: ham bone along with some left-over meat, navy beans and water are a given. I like to add one large grated carrot and a scant tablespoon of sugar also.

For this batch of soup I tossed in a teaspoon (more or less) each of basil and oregano and one bay leaf. The flavors blended well and enhanced the taste of the soup. I will include them from now on. I don’t add salt because I find there’s plenty in the ham.
One of my mom’s favorite sayings was, waste not, want not. I’ve learned those are good words to live by. She could turn leftovers into a new and tasty dish with a snap of her fingers. Coupled with a loaf of her homemade bread, she fed our family of five. It was from her that I learned not to toss out the turkey carcass, bones from a roast or a ham bone. They can all be used to make delicious soup.

Here is the recipe for my latest batch of Bean Soup:
2 c navy beans
Water and more water
1 large carrot, grated
Ham bone with extra meat
1 scant tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
The night before: Place navy beans in a large bowl. Add water to more than cover the beans. In the morning, drain and rinse beans. Place in a Dutch oven or stockpot and cover with water. Heat to simmering and cook for 2 hours. Add grated carrot, ham bone with extra meat and continue to simmer for a couple more hours. Add more water if necessary. Take bone out of pot and remove all the meat. Dice all of the extra meat too. Return the meat to the pot. Add sugar, basil, oregano and bay leaf. Check water level and add more if necessary. Simmer for another hour, until beans are good and soft. Use a potato masher to mash the beans. Don’t mash all of them leave about 1/3 to 1/2 of the beans whole. Taste the soup and add more basil or oregano if desired. Add more water then simmer to desired thickness. Remove the bay leaf. Keep soup warm and add water if necessary to keep desired thickness until ready to serve. This is a hearty and tasty soup. I like to serve it with crusty French bread and sweet creamy butter.


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