Friday, April 29, 2011

Hamming It Up

The beans look prettier uncooked. But didn't your mom tell you looks can be deceiving? Beauty, in this case, really is only skin deep.

As beautiful as the colors are before cooking, nobody wants to eat hard beans. So even though the finished product isn't as visually enticing, this ham and bean soup makes up for it in the taste department.

I love spiral ham, and we've been enjoying the leftovers from our Easter feast. But now that we're down to the scraps and the ham bones, it's time for ham and beans. So, if you're looking for a way to use the last of your Easter ham, give this recipe a try. And endeavor not to burn them like I did last year about this time.

I guarantee it tastes much better than it looks. I serve it over Tippins Corn Bread, a recipe from the Trousdale United Methodist Church cookbook.

Ham and 15 Beans
1 package 15 Bean Soup mix
1 lb. of ham, ham hocks or smoked sausage
1 cup onion, chopped
1 15-oz. can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 tsp. chili powder
Juice of 1 lemon
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

Soaking: Place beans in a large pot; cover with 2 quarts of water. Allow beans to soak overnight or at least 8 hours.

After soaking, drain water; add 2 quarts of fresh water and the meat. Bring beans to boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the bone and any other waste. Remove any meat that remains on the ham bone and toss it back into the soup pot. After simmering, add onion, tomatoes, chili powder, lemon and garlic. Simmer another 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: Approximately 3 quarts. Serves 14 to 16.

  • I don't use the ham seasoning packet found inside the bag of beans.
  • It might be less "mushy" if I'd cooked the beans less. I think part of the issue is the different-sized beans. They taste wonderful and provide lots of great fiber. But, individually, they have different cook times. Use your own judgment and find that delicate balance between undercooked, cooked perfectly and overcooked! Good luck and enjoy - no matter what!
An update: I checked the beans sooner when I made this after Easter. Here's a photo that looks more appetizing. Just check the beans often and remove from the heat when they are tender, but not mushy.

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