I always make a bean soup using our ham bone the weekend after Christmas. It is part of the holiday season that we all look forward to — watching a great football game as we sit in front of the fireplace with a nice bowl of soup. We cut away as much of our Christmas ham as we can and throw that bone in a pot with beans and vegetables . . . and a little Christmas magic happens. This recipe yields a wonderfully savory soup that is filling and perfect with sandwiches, cornbread, or a crusty loaf.
FRENCH MARKET “18 BEAN” SOUP (serves 10-12)
- 2 qts. Cold tap or spring water
- 1 qt. chicken stock, fresh or canned
- ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
- 1 meaty country ham hock or beef bone (3/4-1 lb.)
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1-2 tsp. salt (or to your taste)
- 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 c. chopped onions
- 2 c. chopped celery (include some laves)
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 6 oz. Andouille or zesty smoked sausage, diced (pork or beef)
- 8 oz. (2 medium) fresh chicken breast halves
- Tabasco sauce (optional)
1) Sort through and thoroughly wash beans. Soak beans 4 hours or overnight in water to cover by 2 inches.
2) Drain and rinse the beans. In a large pot (6-8 qt. capacity), combine the beans, 2 qts. Cold water, chicken stock, pepper, ham hock or beef bone and bouquet garni. Cover and bring to boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook covered 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
3) Add salt, tomatoes (chopped, including all the juice), onions, celery, garlic, sausage, and chicken. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for an additional 1 ½ hours. During the last ½ hour, stir the bottom of the pot as the soup should thicken.
4) Locate and remove ham hock (or beef bone), chicken breast, and bouquet garni onto a plate to cool. Discard bouquet garni. Place all meats onto a clean cutting board. Carefully locate and discard bone and fat. Dice meats fine and return them to soup. Serve immediately or (for best flavor) refrigerate and reheat the next day.