Monday, October 10

ham-a-licious

My mom and I split another half a hog this year. I learned an important lesson last year--always order the pig a few weeks before the Cambria County Fair. This ensures getting a "fair pig" (in more ways than one).

The ham and bacon came in last Friday. I baked our ham on Saturday. I found a nifty recipe for ham soup in Penzeys One magazine. It called for a ham bone and since I had one, I decided to try it out. As an aside, I've been ordering all of my spices from Penzeys for years now. Excellent quality.

The recipe turned out great, but it takes forever to cook. I also had to add extra water more than once (otherwise, I would've had ham and bean stew). Here's the recipe:

Gram's Bean Soup

Stock:
3 quarts water
1 onion, halved
1 stalk celery, halved
1 meaty ham bone or a large ham shank
2 bay leaves
2 cloves

Soup:
1 lb. bag dry beans (navy, pea, or northern) soaked in a large bowl of water overnight
1 lb. ham, diced (3-4 cups)
2 carrots, peeled, ends removed, diced
4 medium potatoes, diced (about 4 cups)
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. savory leaves
1 tsp. salt (optional--some hams are salty)
1/2-1 tsp. black pepper

Place all the stock ingredients in a soup pot. Over fairly high heat, bring quickly to a simmer, then reduce heat and simmer at least 2 hours, skimming occasionally. Strain and return to the cleaned pot. Add beans, cook 1 hour, add ham, carrots, potatoes, thyme, savory, half the salt and pepper. Simmer another hour, until beans and potatoes are tender. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.

Yield: 3-4 quarts soup
Prep time: 10 minutes (yeah, right)
Cooking time: 4 hours