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Three Bean Soup with Ham Hock

In these dark winter days, we all seem to crave soup. By soaking beans overnight (or in the morning, before you go to work), you can make this hearty, healthy dinner fairly quickly. (And if you make it on the weekend and reheat it through the week, you’ll really have a convenient recipe.) With three different kinds of beans, the protein of a ham hock, and fresh cabbage, this soup makes sunsets at 4:18 pm seem okay.

Three Bean Soup with Ham Hock

1 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried Great Northern beans
1 cup dried flageolet beans
1 large ham hock
2 quarts chicken stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 large fennel bulb, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 cups napa cabbage, sliced thin
extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Soaking the beans. Put the pinto beans, white beans, and flageolet beans in a large bowl. Cover them with 6 cups of water. Let the beans soak for at least a few hours. (You could easily put the beans to soak in the morning to make this soup for dinner that night.)

Cooking the beans. Drain the beans. Put them into a large pot. Set the pot on high heat. Add the ham hock. Add the chicken stock. Bring the stock to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium low. Simmer until the beans and ham hock are tender, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Cooking the vegetables. Set another large pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the carrot, celery, and fennel. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the basil and cook, stirring, until you can smell the basil, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Finishing the soup. Pour the beans, ham hock, and stock into the pot with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until everything is hot, about 5 minutes.

Pull the ham hock out of the soup. Shred it into pieces.

To serve, put a little cabbage at the bottom of each bowl. Add some pieces of the ham hock. Pour in the soup. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Feeds 6 to 8.

Make ahead. You can soak the beans overnight, if you wish, along with prepping up all the vegetables. In the morning, cook up the vegetables according to the directions, then put all of this in the slow cooker. You’ll have soup when you return from work. Also, soup is always better the next day. Make this on the weekend to eat all week long.

How to get the kids involved. If your kids are old enough to handle knives, have them chop the vegetables. Younger kids can shred the ham hock, after it has cooled.

Freezing. Once the soup cools to room temperature, pour it into an airtight container. It should store in the freezer for 4 to 6 months.

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