In the morning, rinse them well and pick out any debris or stones.
Then, use your leftovers and your imagination to make a soup. Or start with the recipe on the back of the bag as I did. That’s how I get myself going sometimes. But I usually change the recipe—to intensify the flavors, or cut down on the fat or sugar, and adapt it to our personal likes; hence, the smoked ham.
Here’s what I did to make a hearty soup:
16 Bean Soup with Smoked Ham
1 1b. beans, soaked overnight, drained and cleaned
1-2 T. olive oil
1.5 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, cleaned cut in to bite sizes
2 large carrots, cleaned and cut into bite sites pieces
4 -6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 small bay leafs, or 2 large
.5 lb smoked ham, fat removed, and cut up into bite size pieces
4 to 6 cups of chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
In the soup pot, heat the oil and add the onions. Chop up the celery and carrots, and add to the pot. Add minced garlic. Add the beans, bay leaf, and cover with chicken stock. Chop up the smoked ham and add to the pot. Add more chicken broth, if needed. Bring to a slow boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the beans are done, about 1 to 1.5 hours. Season at the end, and be sure to taste, and don’t over salt the soup, because the ham can be very salty on its own.
Serve with warm cornbread, and ketchup to swirl in the soup. That was Tom’s idea. He says he always put ketchup in his soup when he was a kid. And I have to say, the sweetness and vinegary-ness of the ketchup brightened up the soup.
Notes: I used a Daisy Smoked Ham, which is the type of ham sold to be cut up in baked beans. You can use smoked ham hocks, which is a more traditional way to add flavor to a bean soup. Or smoked turkey wings.
To go with our soup, Tom used the last of his pepper crop to make Jalapeno Cornbread with Monterrey Jack cheese, and honey drizzled on top. Decadent, but oh so good!