Navy bean soup

Navy beans slow cooked with smoked ham hocks make a rich, hearty soup.

Navy bean soup flavored with smoked ham hocks and seasoned with rosemary and thyme.

This soup is all about the smoked ham hocks. They aren’t pretty to look at, all gnarly and tawny. But, one whiff of them gives you a sense of what is to come after slow cooking their essence into a pot full of beans.

Like with most soup making in my kitchen, I start by looking over a number of recipes online and in my cookbooks. I usually don’t write things down, I just let the ideas swirl and then step into the kitchen and go for it. Soup making is the opposite of baking. You can try a little of this, a little of that and never touch a measuring device. Letting my taste buds lead the way, things often turn out just right.

Before Baby Whipped was born, I made a large pot of this soup and froze a number of portions. I had forgotten that the doctor advised no beans for the first 6 weeks as they are notorious for causing gas in the baby. I hadn’t remembered that happening with Mini Whipped but since major sleep deprivation and toddler energy are guaranteed in the next six weeks, I have decided to not take the chance of adding baby gas to the mix. So, I thawed the soup and fed it to my mom and husband.

My mom is a good cook and loves soup so I was pleased when she gave this recipe two thumbs up. Mr. Whipped also gave it his blessing. So, here is my first Navy Bean Soup, permanently added to the Whipped family repertoire. Play around with it and follow your taste buds … if you have ham hocks and navy beans as a base, it is nearly impossible to screw up!

Navy Bean Soup

1 pound navy beans, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 large smoked ham hocks
8 cups of water
2 medium carrots, finely diced
Salt and Pepper

Place the beans in a pot and cover with water. Let them sit overnight. OR, if you have less time, bring the beans to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit in the hot water for an hour. Then drain and continue with recipe.

In a soup pot, melt butter. Add onion and garlic cooking about 3 minutes. Add drained beans, 8 cups of water, ham hocks, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook about 1 hour. Add the carrots and cook another half an hour to an hour. The ham hocks should be so tender that the meat will fall off the bone. Keep cooking until this is the case.

Remove ham hocks and cut meat off the bone. Remove excess fat and chop up the meat into small bites before returning the meat to the soup. Remove the bay leaves.

Either use an immersion blender and pulse for a minute or so to puree some of the beans OR remove about 3 cups of soup to a blender and puree and then return to the pot. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve.

Caroline Lubbers blogs at Whipped.

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