Saturday, March 16, 2013

days of soup







i have been making a lot of soup lately. in fact, soup is all i want to make. each week i plan which soup, stew, or chowder i will make. i remember a couple years back matt's mom recommended this very thing to me (weekly soup) because of the ease of always having something prepared and ready to serve on a busy day. i just love making it. on soup nights i turn on some relaxing music and pour myself a glass of wine and take my time. i have made up all of my own recipes now (which are really just a list of ingredients and a method) and i know them by heart so it's just this comfortable flow.

my silly little girl up there is so very funny these days. that stuffed monkey on the table next to her goes absolutely everywhere with her.... she has a lot of love for that furry little guy. her favorite expression is "the cows say moo" and a cute giggle.... she LOVES the cows. she is completely giddy with excitement each and every time she sees or hears them. oh, and she is terrified of our ladybugs.... convinced they are spiders and that she should be afraid of them. she is also one of the most stubborn people i have ever met... ridiculously stubborn... at two.... very scary. and she absolutely adores her grampy.... possibly more than anyone else... she jumps straight into his arms as soon as she sees him and cries every time he leaves (which is also very hard for poor grampy).

so how about a soup recipe.... or more of a list of ingredients and a method.... some avett brothers and a glass of wine too? yes, i think so.

ham and bean soup

ingredients aka shopping list:
-one spiral ham on the bone
-a head of celery
-about 6 carrots or so
-a bag of white (great northern) beans
-a head of garlic
-a medium onion
-a little olive oil or butter to cook the onions

all you really need to remember:
-let the beans soak for at least two hours
-boil the ham for about one to one and a half hours
-extra broth is better than not enough
-cook the onions until soft but cook the garlic just until fragrant

the method:
the broth:  first thing, you must boil the ham and make the broth. i usually do this in the afternoon, but if you work all day you could easily do this part the evening before. if it is a large ham i will cut off some of the extra meat and store it in the fridge for other meals. then i put the ham in a stock pot and cover it with water (i usually cover it by a few inches). bring it to a boil on the stove and turn the heat down to medium and let it gently boil for an hour to an hour and a half. let it cool. remove the ham. strain the broth through a wire sieve. i do not add any salt or spices to this soup. i feel it is always plenty salty from the ham but if you want to add some spices i would add then when you boil the ham. you will also need to pick the ham off of the bone and sort it and shred it. store in the fridge.

soaking the beans:   i usually put the beans to soak about 3pm which is 2 hours before i plan to really start the soup. but of course you can soak the beans all day if you wish. you can put them to soak before you leave for work in the morning and strain them when you get home in the evening. they just need to soak for at least two hours. rinse them and check for grit. then put them in a large bowl and fill it with water. when they are done soaking simply strain the water and set aside for the moment.

making the soup:   dump your beans in your soup pot and cover with broth. i usually cover them by about three inches (remember you will be adding carrots, celery, and ham). turn the heat on and bring soup to a boil then turn down the heat to about medium so that it is gently boiling and get ready to prepare vegetables. chop the onion and garlic (at least 5 cloves but i use an entire head) but keep them separate.  saute the onions in a pan with some olive oil at a medium low heat until they are soft (about 5 minutes) then add the garlic and cook just until fragrant (about 1 minute) and then add to the soup. stir well. now for the carrots and celery, i usually chop up about 4 stalks celery and about 4 carrot sticks to start and add that... it really depends on what you like... i like my carrots and celery to look about equal to the amount of beans i have. if you think you need more then chop two more stalks of celery and two more carrot sticks and add those (i usually end up using six and six but it depends on the size of your soup and what you personally like). if you think you need more broth... add it now. if you think you need more broth but don't have anymore then add some water. let the soup gently boil until the carrots, celery, and beans are all soft. taste for salt. add the shredded ham. stir well. let it heat a few more minutes and serve.

if you try it i hope this recipe works well for you and that you enjoy the soup. but most of all i hope you enjoy your time making it.

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