Ma’s Ham & Bean Soup

I posted my mother in law’s ham recipe the other day, and I recommended saving the unused sauce, the leftover ham, and pan juices for later. This is why! You can make this on the stovetop in a large pot of dutch oven, or in an extra large crock pot.

I’ll admit we’ve sometimes had the craving for this soup and made a ham just for this purpose. If you do that, you’ll want to set aside meat from at least half of the ham for eating since this recipe is meant to be made from leftovers.

Ingredients

Leftover ham (on and off the bone), pan juices, and any unused sauce (from Ma’s ham recipe)
1 bag great northern beans
1 x 28ox can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

Prepare beans using instructions on the bag for the “quick soak” method. Do not drain the water from the pot when finished. (This takes about an hour)

Place ham (bone with meat, and any additional meat off the bone) into an extra large pot or dutch oven. Add beans and the water from soaking. Add the diced tomatoes (do not drain), pan juices, ham sauce, onion, and garlic.

Cook on low, pretty much all day. Stir occasionally and add some water if it begins to get too thick.

Improvised Two Bean Soup – Saved from Disaster

photo-feb-17-4-59-25-pmI ended concocting this yesterday when I needed something to bring to an event. I made potato salad, but I didn’t like how it tasted. It ended up turning out fine, but I needed to get something else together in case the potato salad was a total fail. It seemed like my normally stockpiled pantry and fridge were empty, and almost every measuring cup or spoon I owned was in the dishwasher. So WTF do I make?

I basically had to come up with something with all of the ingredients I always keep a ton of: diced tomatoes, beans, stock, and onions. Chili wasn’t an option because all of my meat was frozen and I didn’t have time for anything to defrost.

I diced an onion and started cooking it in the dutch oven. I realized I was smart enough to freeze chipotles in adobo, so I chopped up a bunch of that and tossed it in. I added the tomatoes (28oz can), black beans, and pinto beans. I also added 1 box of beef stock. Ideally I would’ve wanted a third kind of bean, but didn’t have it. I also seasoned it with a bunch of salt and some Tastefully Simple Wahoo! Chili Seasoning (probably about 1-2 tbsp of the chili seasoning).

The soup was looking really sad. It needed more beans, but I didn’t have any. This is when I slap realized my knife skills were kind of bad on that onion. I wanted to thicken it. I grabbed the masa harina from the pantry. I would’ve liked to have used beer for this next part, but we didn’t have any. I was also not wasting any of my good wine on this! Grabbed some vodka and made a slurry with about 2/3 cup masa harina (1/3 was the only measuring cup not in the dishwasher). I stirred it into the soup, brought it to a boil, and reduced it.

It was starting to look better, but still looked sad. I decided to get the immersion blender and puree it. It was starting to look pretty good! I adjusted the seasoning, added corn, and just let it simmer for a bit, stirring occasionally. At some point I added about 2 cups of cheddar cheese and probably 8 shakes of Worcestershire. I kept tasting it and it actually tasted good. Yay!

I didn’t really think about how I was going to transport it. I don’t have a portable Crock Pot. I ladled the soup into gallon freezer bags (I made sure they were the ones that can also go in the microwave), put the bags into the crock pot, and taped the lid shut. Not ideal, but it worked!

Everyone really liked the soup, and I didn’t have much at all to bring home.

I did not add an actual recipe for this because of all of the troubleshooting I went through to make it happen, and also because I wasn’t measuring much of anything.

Snow Day Chili-Stew

snow-day-chili-stew

We had a blizzard last year, and I wanted to make something warm for us to eat while taking breaks from shoveling feet of snow. I’ll be making this again for sure during the next mega-snow! I call it a chili-stew because it has some elements of a chili and other elements of a stew. I didn’t think it was “chili” enough to just call it a chili.

Ingredients

1 to 1 ½ lb sirloin
¼ package red kidney beans
1 jalapeño 
2 poblano peppers
4 tomatillos
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
¼ cup masa harina
Olive oil
About ½ cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cups beef stock
½ bottle beer
Worcestershire sauce
Maggi liquid seasoning (This can be hard to find. If you can’t, just add a little more Worcestershire)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, roughly chopped
¼ cup apple juice
Cumin
Chili powder
Cayenne

Instead of the cumin, cayenne, and chili powder, you can also use Tastefully Simple Wahoo! Chili seasoning.

Instructions 

Prep kidney beans according to package instructions. This takes about an hour for the non-overnight method. Drain and rinse when done.

While beans are soaking, roast poblanos and jalapeño. Turn on broiler. Coat peppers in olive oil. Roast until charred, about 10 minutes. You can also roast them on a gas burner, but we don’t have a gas range in our new house (sad face).

Dice onion and mince garlic. Set aside (together). Remove husks from tomatillos and roughly chop. Cut off tops of poblanos and jalapeño and roughly chop. Roughly chop 2 chipotles. Set aside tomatillos, poblanos, jalapeño, and chipotles together.

Trim sirloin and cut into small pieces, about the size of your thumb above the knuckle.

Heat approx. 3 tbsp olive oil in dutch oven on med-high. Add sirloin with salt & pepper. Cook until brown. Add masa harina, stir, and toast for 1 minute. If it gets too dry, add more olive oil. It should be a dry-ish paste, not really wet, and but not super dry. Add garlic and onion, cook a few minutes.

Deglaze with beer.

Add beef stock, peppers, and tomatillos. Stir. Salt liberally. Add about 5-8 dashes Worcestershire and 10-15 dashes maggi. Add about 1 tsp each chili powder and cumin. Add about ½ tsp cayenne. (Measurements are approximate. Adjust to taste as it cooks). Add beans and corn.

8. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot about every 30 minutes. Taste each time and adjust seasoning to taste. Add apple juice in the last 30 minutes (optional, to cut down the level of spicy).

Troubleshooting 

Too spicy? Add some apple juice. Don’t have apps juice? Toss a peeled potato into the bottom of the pot to absorb some of the spice. Don’t have that either? Add some sugar.

Not spicy enough? Add cayenne or some juice from the chipotle peppers.

Not flavorful enough? Add more cumin, cayenne, & chili powder.

Doesn’t taste brown enough? (Yeah, this is a thing) Add more Worcestershire and/or Maggi.