Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ham and Bean Cabbage Soup

I love ham for Easter, however I always have a hard time coming up with ways to use the leftovers. There seems to be a plethora of leftover turkey/chicken recipes, but ham ones are harder to find. I used some of the ham in a ham/noodle casserole and would have loved to have made a ham and asparagus quiche, but I haven't had any luck in my very, very limited search for local asparagus. It was kinda chilly last week, so I decided maybe I could swing a soup.

Mmm...I was glad I did. This soup is a step beyond your basic ham and bean soup with the addition of potatoes, cabbage, parsley, and thyme. It was wonderful, especially with the large baguette croutons dipped into it. I altered the recipe to use my leftover ham, the original called for ham hocks. I was able to cut my cooking time down considerably by using my already cooked sliced ham. To see the original version of the recipe using ham hocks, click here. You could also cut down on preparation/cooking time by using canned beans. That just isn't as fun though and probably not as tasty either (because ingredients don't have time to marry). I soak the beans overnight so they are ready to cook when I get up the next day (but I never cook them quite yet). You can also cook the beans, and then cool and refrigerate until you are ready to make the rest of the soup. This serves 4 - 6 people as dinner.

Ham and Bean Cabbage Soup
adapted from Gourmet

1 c dried white beans (like Great Northern, navy, or cannellini), picked over and rinsed
1 whole clove
1 medium onion, peeled and left whole
1 lb cooked ham (don't slice until later in the recipe)
3 qt water
6 fresh parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb potatoes
1 lb cabbage, cored and cut into 1/2" pieces (about 6 c)
1/4 c butter, softened (but not melted)
12 (1/2" thick) slices from a baguette

Soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches at room temperature for between 8 - 12 hours. Drain in colander.

Stick clove in onion. Bring beans, ham, water, onion, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, and garlic to a boil and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beans are almost tender, 40 - 50 minutes. (You can stop the recipe at this point and finish about 30 minutes before you are ready to eat). When the beans are almost done, peel potatoes and cut into 1" pieces. Add potatoes and cabbage to beans, then simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are very tender, 20 - 25 minutes. Remove the hunk of ham from the beans and cut into bite sized pieces once ham is cool enough to handle. Return to soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf and onion.

Meanwhile, while the vegetables cook, spread butter on both sides of the bread, then toast in batches in a 12" cast iron skillet over moderate heat, turning over once, until golden, about 2 minutes total. Serve soup with toasts.

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