The Shady Porch: White Soup Beans and Ham


White Soup Beans and Ham

The beauty of a bean soup is in the unbeatable combination of simplicity, flavor, flexibility, and economy. For the novice who wants to prepare the kind of dishes that were staples for our grandparents, or the kitchen veteran who just wants a family classic that hits the major dinner buttons: flavor, nutrition, and ease, this White Soup Beans and Ham recipe is a no fail option. Little can be simpler than a dish that has so few ingredients and a single pot for prep. The flavor that arises from the inclusion of ham and seasoning with bacon drippings is a classic. Add to that the flexibility on BOTH ends - the option to cook on an active cooktop OR use a slow cooker that frees the chef for other business as well as the adaptability of any leftovers to be the base for a white chili and there are just not many dishes this easy to love. Finally, the cost of this dinner borders on ridiculously low, putting the cost per serving well below $1.00.

White Northern Beans and Ham served with Jalapeno Cornbread
White Soup Beans and Ham served with Jalapeno Cornbread

2 lb bag of Great Northern or Navy beans
2 pkgs cubed Ham (large cubes) 
1 spoonful of bacon grease or a ham bone from the butcher
4 cups chicken broth
salt, as needed (as a matter of taste, we believe all of the pork eliminates the need for more salt)

Recommended the night before (a few hours before cooking works as well): using a cookie sheet, gradually pour and spread the beans out sorting for rocks and shriveled beans. Put the beans in a large pot of water (allow room for the beans to expand). Water should cover the beans with a couple of inches to spare. I prefer to let them sit overnight, but a few hours of soaking will do the trick, if time is an issue.

To cook the beans: 
1.  Drain using a colander then rinse beans with cool water. 
2.  Place the beans in a large heavy cook pot and add 4 cups of chicken broth. If needed, add enough water to cover the beans so that the beans stay submerged in liquid.
3.  Add a ham bone or large spoonful of bacon grease and the 2 packages of cubed ham.
4.  Bring to a boil, cover, and set heat to medium-low so the soup just simmers.  Check the beans periodically to make sure they stay covered in liquid, stir occasionally. As needed, add water or broth.
5. Cook until the beans are completely tender, about 1-2 hours.  Remove bone, if necessary and serve.

Optional accompaniments when serving - Jalapeno Cornbread, sweet pickles, green onions or wedges of white onion, hot peppers, picklelilly, or any number of relishes. 
White Soup Beans and Ham served with Jalapeno Cornbread

other soup recipes you might like...
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