White Bean Soup
This white bean soup was a favorite of mine when I was growing up and it’s even better now that a glazed, spiral sliced ham has become so popular at holiday time.
I didn’t grow up in Texas where the southern “red beans & rice” is standard fare. My Kansas roots called for white or “navy” beans as the traditional bean soup and I have no idea why a white bean is referred to as navy…I suppose I need to google that someday!
I love a steaming hot bowl of red beans & rice any day! But navy beans produce a thicker, more creamy base for sure. They are buttery smooth and extremely comforting with chunks of salty ham to flavor the base. I don’t think a plain grocery store ham hock from the butchers case or link sausage is the way to go with white bean soup. From the first moment my mother made a pot with some leftover Honey Baked Ham sometime back in the 80’s I was committed to the heavy flavors that it brought to the soup. There are so many wonderful spiral sliced “honey baked” hams on the market these days that any of those will work just fine.
Hint: Almost every town has a Honey Baked Ham store these days, what you might not know is that they ALWAYS have left over ham ends frozen in the back that they are happy to sell you at a very reasonable price. They’re fairly large bone-in and more than enough for a large pot of beans. It’s an extra stop on shopping day and may be a bit out of your way so do what I do and pick up 2 or 3 when you’re there – they freeze for up to a year and they have plenty of meat on them for lots of recipes.
- 1 lb. bag of Northern White Beans
- leftover bone from a spiral sliced ham
- 1 onion quartered
- salt & pepper
- Soak beans in a bowl of water 6 to 8 hours. Drain and rinse the beans.
- Put ham on top of the beans in the pressure cooker and add the onion.
- Cover with water (no more than 3/4 full), cover the cooker and cook for 40 minutes after the valve begins to vibrate.
- After the beans are cooked either let them cool before releasing the pressure or rinse the pan under cold water for a couple of minutes before removing the lid.
- Remove the ham bone from the soup and trim off any leftover ham and return the meat to the pot. Add a little water to thin the soup out a little, add salt & pepper to taste and let the ham and beans simmer together for 10 minutes.
- Put beans, ham and onion in a large dutch oven, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 2 hours on low checking periodically for water level.
- Remove the ham bone from the soup and trim off any leftover ham and return the meat to the pot. Add salt & pepper to taste and let the ham and beans simmer together for an additional 30 to 45 minutes uncovered.
- Serve with piping hot cornbread.