Cauldron Cooking: Pot Luck Ham Bean Soup
Spring colds are the worst. But this recipe is great to help you get back on the mend. It’s also great for hand-fasting potlucks. Make this and freeze half if you’re not feeding a crowd. Then you have a ready-made meal on a night you don’t feel like cooking. The magic in this one is not only turning water into good-for-you broth; but, also the kick of healthiness everyone who eats it will feel. There’s nothing better than bringing people together over a big cauldron of soup and watching it warm their cheeks and hearts.
I rarely let things like ham bones go into the compost without first making soup of it. It also cuts down on the amount of leftovers we have after having a ham dinner like at the Vernal equinox. However, making soup right after a holiday isn’t always possible. So I cut my leftovers away from the ham — any that we’ll actually eat given activity schedules, and then always leave about a pound of ham on the bone and put it in a gallon-sized freezer bag and put it in the deep freeze. Then it’s ready when I’m ready. It’s the same with a turkey or chicken or duck carcass, leg of lamb, or seafood shells. Bone broth is magic, so I never let it go to waste.
It’s best if you start this about mid morning to have it ready for early afternoon dinner. Even if it sits and simmers a bit before dinner, that’s great, too. If I’m feeling even more energetic, I’ll bake a loaf of bread to go with this while the soup cooks.
You’ll need your large 6 quart cast-iron dutch oven for this. You know, your cauldron. And it must have a lid. You’ll need it for this recipe.
The star of this show is really the veggies; but, if you have more than a pound of ham after you stew your bone into broth, that’s fine, too.
This recipe is considered low-carb. Enjoy it.
Ham bone with about another 1 lb. of meat cut up into bite-sized chunks
4 cups water that will be turned into broth
1 Onion, chopped (1 cup), large
2 Carrots, sliced (1 cup), medium
1 stalk Celery
2 cloves Garlic
1 can Muir glen tomatoes, organic, diced
1 tsp Oregano, dried leaves
2 tsp Basil, dried leaves
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 cups Spinach, packed fresh leaves
2 cans (15 to 15.5 oz each) great northern or cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained, rinsed
1 can of above said beans, but different — this bean will be “smashed” to make the soup thicker
2 tbsp Olive oil (optional)
1 Bay Leaf (optional)
Parsley for garnish (optional)
Take the ham bone and 4 cups of water and put in seasoned cast-iron dutch oven and bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for a couple of hours. Yes, I said a couple of hours.
The water will turn broth, then remove the ham bone and all the meat, and reserve on a plate. Be sure to get all the meat out of the liquid, especially any that fell off the bone. You want to be able to cut it up into bite-sized chunks.
Put the chopped onions, celery, carrots, and garlic into the broth and cook on med-low for at least 15 minutes with the lid on.
While that cooks, take the one can of beans that has been selected to smash, and drain the liquid and smash the beans in a bowl with a potato masher or fork. Add the two tablespoons of olive oil to help it smash easier. But this is optional)
Add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. You are welcome to add the bay leaf and parsley in at this time if you like. Cook with lid on for another 15 minutes.
While this cooks, be sure to scrape your bone of all ham and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Then add Parmesan, spinach, and the two cans of whole beans and the 1 can of smashed beans. Cook with lid on for another 15 minutes.
Stir the pot and taste to see if you need more pepper or salt. At this point you can either serve, or let it simmer for at least another 30 minutes. Be sure to keep the lid on until serving and keep heat on low.