Recently in Northern California, we’ve had some pretty cold, sometimes rainy, sometimes foggy winter weather. Personally, I love it. I always look forward to the changing of the season, and especially to the culinary ramifications that come with it. By the time one season is ending, I’m usually looking forward to new produce and different types of dishes. In the summer, I always wait impatiently for the first sweet tomato, peach or strawberry. In the fall and winter, I enjoy squash and root vegetables. I especially love soups and stews on a cold day, and these tend to be a staple for us in the winter. So in honor of soups and cold weather, my next couple of posts will feature winter soups and stews. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
First on the list: White Bean and Ham Soup
1 lb navy beans (picked through and rinsed)
8-10 cups water
1 large onion (diced)
1 1/2 cups carrots (chopped)
1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper (chopped)
2 cups celery (chopped)
1 ham shank (about 1.5 lbs- ask the butcher to cut it in half, if possible)
1/2 andouille sausage (cut into bite-sized pieces)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 pinch herbes to provence (substitute with dried thyme and rosemary if you don’t have these)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1. Several hours before you begin cooking the soup, put your beans in a large pot and cover them with water. Let them soak until you’re ready to use them (at least 4 hours). I usually begin soaking the beans in the morning when I’m planning on making them for dinner. Once they’re soaked, drain the water and put them back in the large pot.
2. Cover the beans with the water and add the ham shank. Turn on the heat to medium-high and bring the water to a boil. Then reduce to medium heat and let simmer for about an hour.
3. Remove the ham shank from the soup and add all of the vegetables. Once the ham shank is cool enough to touch, cut the meat off the shank, and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Put the ham pieces into the soup. Allow to cook for another hour.
4. About 15 minutes before serving, add the andouille sausage, herbes the provence and salt and pepper.
Serve and enjoy!