Basic Ham and Bean Soup
This is a good basic recipe with one improvement. The secret to any good soup is the stock from which it is made. So first, the ham stock should be made separately from any other ingredients because it takes a few hours to get the ham flavor fully out of a ham bone. I would also use ham hocks in addition to (or in lieu of) the ham bone, because ham hocks have many joints and contribute a lot of protein richness to the stock. A properly done stock will actually gel if stored in fridge - the gel is the protein not the fat. Once the stock is made, you can strain it and toss the ham hocks and bone out because if done correctly, the flavor from the hocks and bones has now been transferred into the stock.
Once the stock is done, add the beans only, and cook till done. Finally add the more tender ingredients like veggies and ham meat. Cook as long as you like for your veggie tenderness.
Like any soup, it benefits from a night in the fridge before eating!
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Jul. 30, 2011