Since my wife was scheduled to be on call for work on New Year’s day, we decided it would be best to spend a quiet day at home. As always. I’m in charge of the day’s menu. On inspecting the fridge, I remembered that we still had the remnants of our holiday ham sitting at the back, waiting to be put to good use. Having already had ham dinner, ham sandwiches, ham and cheese omelets, and ham chowder, I decided that soup was about all that I make from the leftover ham and ham shank.
Remembering the bag of dried navy beans I had bought at the farmers’ market on one of our last trips in the fall, I figured that now was the time to experiment with navy bean soup. The ingredients and prep are simple and while I used our leftover ham, this could be just as easily made with a smoked sausage, such as kielbasa or with some good smoked bacon. You can cut down on the prep time also, by using 2 jars of navy beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly. This recipe is pretty traditional except for the addition of cumin I included to intensify the smoky quality of the ham.
Note: Most packages of dry beans give you alternative methods for reconstituting the beans. The first calls for soaking the beans overnight. I used the quick boil-and-let-sit for 1 hour method since I hardly ever plan that far ahead.
2 c. dried navy beans
1 c. diced ham
1 ham shank
2 carrots, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper
Prepare the navy beans according to package instructions.
In a large 6-7 quart dutch oven, add the beans and the remaining ingredients, except for the salt and pepper, along with 6 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to simmer and continue cooking until the beans are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from the heat and use a stick blender or potato masher to break up about half of the cooked beans and vegetables. Return to the heat, stir the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.