CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Ham and Bean Soup

People who routinely bake a ham for a holiday meal usually don’t have any questions when it comes to leftovers.

Ham or ham and cheese sandwiches are near the top of my list as well as a macaroni salad, the kind that might be served after a funeral. I also just like to nibble on a piece of ham as a snack. It’s one of my few food indulgences.

But probably my favorite use of leftover ham is in bean soup. Chopped up onion and celery as well as some sliced carrots are also a given in the soup. And if there is a ham bone, all the better.

With the Easter weekend just past and plenty of meat and a nice ham bone in the refrigerator, I was able to throw together a tasty pot of ham and bean soup. I used a combination of navy and pinto beans in the soup along with a pint of our canned carrots.

The soup took more than a day to make because the beans required an overnight soaking, but it was well worth the wait.

And so much for leftover ham sandwiches.

Ham and Bean Soup
1 pound navy or pinto beans
Water to cover beans while soaking
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 ham bone
1 to 2 pounds ham, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet yellow onion, peeled and diced
5 carrots, peeled cut into ¼-inch slices
2 stalks celery, cut into ¼-inch slices)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (possibly, but taste first)
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Rinse beans (remove any that are discolored). Fill a large bowl half full with water and add beans. Soak for 8 hours or overnight.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in Dutch oven or soup pot.
Add carrots, onions and celery and saute until tender.
Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
Add all soup ingredients to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to low and simmer 1 hour or until the meat begins to fall away from the bones. Stir periodically.
Remove the meat from the bones then place the meat back in the bean pot. Continue to cook another 2 to 3 hours or until beans are tender.
Note: If desired, add a dash or two of hot sauce.

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