Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lima Beans and Ham

I finished my soup I made last week and decided on Lima bean and ham soup for this week.  This will be my “Sunday soup” (my daughter-in-law’s name for soups I make on Sunday). I’ll eat it the rest of the week.  I got 3 ham hocks when I got groceries this week and a bag of dried large Lima beans with the idea I wanted to save money, time and have an economical hearty dish all week. This is a nice change from the standard Northern white bean soup.

1 (1 pound) bag of large dried Lima beans (you can get the small ones if you prefer)
1 large ham bone with plenty of meat still on the bone or 3 or 4 fresh ham hocks
2 quarts of chicken broth (you can use water if you like, but you are doubling the flavor with chicken broth)
1 small chopped onion
1 large grated carrot
2 or 3 bay leaves depending on the size
½ tsp. garlic
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Kosher salt

Soak beans overnight in a quart of water.  Drain the water and rinse the beans well the next morning.  You do not have to soak them, but it saves a lot of cooking time.  You can also buy beans in a can, but you have just increase your cost considerably because you are going to need at least 4 or 5 cans of Lima beans.  You can get small Lima beans, but I like the large ones. 

Make a ham bone stock by adding about 2 quarts chicken stock, your ham bone(s), two bay leaves, salt and pepper and let the ham bone cook until the ham starts falling off the bone.  Pull all the meat from the bone and toss the bone, skin if you are using ham hocks, and the bay leaves away.  Add the meat back to the stock.  You should have a nice dark broth with great flavor.

Add the chopped onion, garlic, beans, carrots and paprika to the stock. I like to put my onion and garlic in a small food processor and chop until it is pureed.  It saves tears and work.  Grate 1 large carrot and toss into the pot.  I like to grate them on the smallest grate on my grater so they almost disappear in the soup.  Do not use those pre-cleaned mini carrots because they are preserved in chemicals you should not be putting into your body.

Add additional water as needed especially if you are cooking it on the stove top because it will need it. Make sure the beans are completely covered with broth/water when you first start to simmer them. Put your lid on and simmer the beans until they are tender (at least a good hour on medium heat with lid on if you soaked them all night).  Taste test for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.  I prefer a ham bone over ham hocks, but don’t buy a whole ham with bone in just for soup.  The ham hock will do the same thing but you will have less meat.  Do use something with a bone in though because it adds so much more flavor to the broth.  Always think bean soup if you are lucky enough to have a meaty ham bone.          
These beans can be cooked in the crock pot if you like.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low all day while you are at work and come home to dinner ready and the house smelling like heaven.

Variation - Add equal parts of Lima beans, Northern beans and kidney beans and make a 3 bean soup (16 oz. total).  You can make it a 7 or 13 bean soup if you want to buy the bagged mixed beans. 

Serve it with some corn bread or crusty bread to sop up the broth. I love sopping every little bit in the bowl.

I’m going to be cutting back on my blog because of time constraints.  I’ll try to share when ever I’m making something new and good in the kitchen.  I’m playing with a dried beef spread and combining it with a cucumber sandwich on Pumpernickel bread this week.  I will share it when I’m happy with it.  Hope you have a great Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.    

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