It’s getting to be that time of year when everyone starts to think of soups and stews. The leaves are just on the verge of turning. There’s even an occasional morning when the temperature is noticeably cooler and the air less humid. Days like these make us all start wanting to settle in for cooler weather, don’t they? And one of the best things about cool weather is the change in menu. Now, I really, really enjoy all the fresh veggies and wonderful salads that are so great in hot weather, but I always look forward to changing gears a little bit when Fall comes around.
Of course, everyone has had chicken-vegetable soup, right? And, beef with vegetables, too. But have you ever had ham soup? Yes, that’s right, soup made with the broth cooked from a meaty leftover ham bone. If you never have, then please let me introduce you!
1 bone leftover from a large ham
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
1-2 cans diced tomatoes
1 pkg baby lima beans
1 pkg whole kernel corn
salt and pepper
First and most importantly, this makes a LOT of soup, so go find the largest pot you have in your kitchen. Really. You know the one that’s in the very back of the cabinet because you never use it but you know you’ll need it one day? Yes, that one. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Now, see the hambone in the picture up there? That was the leftovers from either Easter or Thanksgiving or maybe last Tuesday, I don’t remember. Whenever it was, I just threw that whole thing in a sturdy ziplog bag and tossed it in the freezer. Why? Because to me the soup from a leftover ham bone is way better than the ham was the first time around! It’s so homey, warm and satisfying. Perfect for any time of year. So, let’s get started.
This is by no means an exact recipe where you have to count out or measure every little ingredient. Just play with it! Use whatever you like best, but this is my basic recipe. Place your ham bone in a large pot with enough water to come 1/2 to 3/4 up the hunk of meat (well, I don’t know what else to call it!). Bring it to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
At the end of the cooking time, this is what you’re going to have. A pot full of very tasty, very fragrant ham stock. Remove the bone from the stock and let it cool enough so that you can handle it. Then cut all the ham that you can off the bone and return it to the pot with the stock. You can throw away the actual bone now. It has done its duty; given up its essence to the soup pot.
Now, dice the onion and celery and add them to the pot. Add the diced tomatoes, lima beans (actually butter beans are better if you have them), potatoes and corn. Add salt and pepper to taste. I used a good tablespoon of salt because that’s a huge pot of soup to season. (Note: Thanks to my friend Kay for sharing with me how to construct the storyboard you see above! Isn’t that so much better than scrolling past eight individual pictures of each step?)
Bring the whole shootin’ match (he he…always loved that phrase) to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.
p.s. – I would have put some frozen sliced okra in this for the last 30 minutes, but the pot was too full!
I like to serve this with some good garlic bread or corn muffins.