One of the best things about winter eating is soup, and one of the best things about winter eating in my kitchen is Bean, Bacon and Ham soup. I don’t know about you, but I always want Ham when it comes to holidays. But even when I buy the smallest spiral ham I can find, James and I are left with days and days of leftovers.
There’s only so many ham sandwiches a girl can eat. Even when they’ve got stone ground mustard and crisp lettuce, and super wonderful KerryGold Dubliner cheese on them. So the perfect use for all those leftovers, including the ham bone is a no-brainer. It’s soup every time.
When I was a kid, my dad used to come home to eat lunch every day. During the summers, we’d always eat Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup and a sandwich. The sandwich always varied, but the soup never did. We both adored it.
I’ve come as close here to that commercial version as I think I can. But I promise, there’s not nearly as much salt, nor are there any chemical preservatives. Just good, honest soup that is easily frozen in zip loc bags for future meals. It’s comfort in a bowl, and if I do say so myself, mmm mmm good.
Bacon, Bean, and Ham Soup
Serves 6 to 8 or makes 2 dinners to freeze
1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 Ham bone, if possible with chunks of left over ham
4 strips of thick Bacon, cooked until just done
4 Celery stalks, diced finely
4 Carrots, diced finely
1 Onion, diced finely
1 small can (8 oz) of tomato paste
1 tsp thyme
3 cloves of minced garlic
6-8 cups of water
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 large (28 oz) cans of white beans (I used Goya)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook bacon in a skillet or oven set to broil. (I bake it on a cookie sheet with a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, flipping once, on the middle rack of the oven, and it turns out perfectly every time.) When bacon is done, patted with paper towel, and cooled, dice into small pieces.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot enough to easily spread across the pan, add in diced onion, carrot, and celery. Allow to sweat down until the onions and carrots have some color.
Add garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and tomato paste. Stir to evenly distribute. Add ham bone with chunks of ham to the pan, and then add water to fill the pan with 2 inches to spare. Add liquid smoke, bacon chunks and beans straight from the can (no need to rinse, the liquid from the can adds extra flavor).
Allow to simmer on low to medium heat 2-3 hours. Remove ham bone from soup pot and dig in.
If you’d like to make this in the crock pot instead, simply brown the carrots, celery, and onion in a frying pan, and then add all ingredients at once into crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours on low.
Since technically all the ingredients are already cooked, really what you’re doing is allowing the ham bone and marrow time to infuse the water for a rich and meaty taste.
Serve with warm rolls, corn bread, or beer bread – perfect for dipping.