Anyone who has contemplated making bean soup for the first time and goes to the internet looking for a recipe will likely find one that suits his or her tastes.
That’s because there’s hardly any limit to the number of bean soups that a cook can make. Perhaps the main reason is that beans come in all shapes, colors and sizes, and when you consider the number of vegetables that can be added, that figure grows exponentially.
When I did a Google search of bean soup recently, the result was about 6 million. I wasn’t looking for any recipe in particular mind you, just some ideas about what combinations were compatible with the vegetables available from my garden.
I grew up eating bean soup. My dad usually made it a day or two after we had a ham dinner — he always saved the bone with ample meat on it — or if he had purchased some pork or ham hocks at the local butcher shop.
Dad’s soup always contained navy beans, which required an overnight soaking. I don’t ever recall him using canned beans. The soup also contained onion, a bay leaf, celery and a little salt and pepper. Once in a while, Dad would add a couple of sliced-up carrots and maybe a cut-up potato or two.
I’ve tried my hand at bean soup a few times over the years, but it’s usually been using canned beans. The other day, however, I decided to make some using beans that a friend’s friend had given her along with a couple of pork hocks.
I had read somewhere that instead of soaking the beans overnight you could cook them in boiling water for an hour before adding the other ingredients, so that was going to be my plan. And I was going to use pinto beans, which are a little softer than navys.
Besides, the beans, onions, celery, carrots and potatoes, my soup contained kale and Swiss chard.
I think Dad would approve.
Bean Soup with Pork Hocks
2 pork hocks
4 to 6 medium-sized carrots
3 medium-sized potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup Swiss chard, chopped
1 cup kale, chopped
1 cup pinto beans
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Place hocks in stock pot with 8 cups water. Bring to boil. Add pinto beans. Cook over medium heat for about 30 to 60 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cook about another 1 to 2 hours. During this time, take hocks out of pot and remove meat from bones. Return meat to pot.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10.