It’s a cool Spring day here…in the mid-sixties. There’s a sweet mountain breeze blowing in all the open windows. No doubt Summer will officially be here soon…in fact, on my youngest baby’s 31st birthday to be exact, June 21st. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this weather.
I thought I’d take advantage of what may be one of the last cool days to make a pot of soup…delicious Navy Bean Soup. Every time I make this soup I’m reminded of years ago when my family and I lived in Indiana. Each year, there were festivals in the small towns around us, usually in the late Summer or early Autumn and we loved going to all of them. One of my favorites was in Bridgeton, Indiana, the Covered Bridge Festival. Among all the tasty foods at the festival, there would always be an enormous black kettle of navy bean soup cooking and a long line of those wanting to buy a bowl! For a reasonable sum, it was served with sides of hot corn bread, pickle relish and chopped onion. Navy bean soup is also a favorite in our nation’s capital. This soup is so good it has been served in the U.S. Senate cafeteria for years. This is my version of Navy Bean Soup.
Navy Bean Soup
1 hickory smoked ham slice
1 sixteen ounce package of small white navy beans
1 can or box of chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or Crisco oil)
1 sweet vidalia onion, chopped fine
2 stalks of fresh, tender celery, chopped fine
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3-4 small cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, washed and chopped (this came fresh from my garden this morning)
a light sprinkling of dried parsley flakes (or fresh if you have it, I didn’t)
a light sprinkling of dried Thyme leaves (these weren’t ready yet in the garden)
Kosher salt (you will be seasoning to taste – start with about 1 teaspoon)
Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper (I love this stuff!) (again, season to taste – start with about 1/2 teaspoon)
Start the night before (unless you have a pressure cooker…I don’t). “Pick” and rinse the beans. Cover with water, several inches above the beans. Cover the bowl completely with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter overnight. The next morning, empty the beans into a colander and rinse.
Saute the onion, celery, garlic and carrots in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (or Crisco oil if you don’t have EVOO) in a dutch oven. Pour the beans into the dutch oven/pot. Cover the beans barely with water. Add the 1 can of chicken broth. I just used Campbells.
Add all your spices. Season to taste with the Kosher salt and Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper (great stuff).
Now for your ham slice: trim all the fat and the little center bone away and cut into bite size pieces. Brown lightly in separate small skilled in a smidgeon of butter and then add to your soup.
Bring your soup briefly to a boil and “skim” off any “foamy” stuff. Don’t let it boil on high long at all. Then turn the heat down to low or semi-low, cover and let it cook for several hours. After it’s cooked for a while, taste it to see if you need to add more salt or pepper. When the beans are good and tender, it’s done! Remember to remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve with hot cornbread and enjoy!
When I went to the garden this morning looking for fresh herbs for the soup, look what I found growing so beautifully! Recognize it? I know you Southerners know what this is…it’s TURNIP GREENS! My first time to grow them ever and I’m not sure how much longer before I pick them and cook them but I can’t wait!