Well, we’re pretty much snowed in at the moment, in the midst of a blizzard warning that lasts until tomorrow afternoon and that will give us about 15 inches of snow between now and then. Needless to say, it put a serious dent in my plans (I had to reschedule the meetup scheduled for tomorrow night, and I’ve scratched my plans to go to the Worthington Winter Farmer’s Market tomorrow), so I have a whole weekend with no going out for anything to look forward to.
In addition to catching up on little things like housework, it’s also allowing me to make dishes that seriously hit the spot now, when the house is a bit chilly and there’s snow everywhere the eye can see, but would be seriously out of place in a few weeks when spring will have sprung and my tulips will be blooming. Call it a last hurrah for winter foods, if you will. And nothing hits the spot quite like a nice thick bean and ham soup. Served with a loaf of Omega’s French Country bread and butter, there’s nothing else quite like it. Thank you, Mom – for the inspiration.
Bean and Ham Soup
1 bag Hambone 16-Bean Soup Mix (or any other brand that comes with a ham flavor packet)
3-4 ham hocks (1-2 lbs. total)
1/2 lb. double-smoked bacon, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
8 cups water
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic in olive oil
1 tsp. Colman’s mustard powder
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt (add more to taste)
Maggi seasoning (to taste)
3 medium potatoes, diced into 1/2″ cubes
Soak the beans in 2 quarts water overnight (at least 8 hours), then drain water. In cast iron dutch oven, saute double smoked bacon until it starts to liberate bacon grease, and then add carrots, celery, onion, and minced garlic. Saute until onion is translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
Add 8 cups water, beans, mustard, and bay leaves to pot, and stir well. Bring to a boil, and allow beans to simmer until they are softened and start thickening (about 2-2 1/2 hrs in our case). Add ham seasoning packet from bean mix. Check for seasoning and add additional salt/maggi if necessary. Add potatoes, and allow to cook an additional half hour or so until potatoes are tender. Strip meat from ham hocks and then add back to pot. Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread.