Hot Navy Bean Soup simmered with smoked ham is a perfect pick-me-up on a very cold winter day.
While we were back in the Midwest for Christmas I got a request from my mother-in-law to make a soup using some leftover ham she had in the fridge. She suggested navy bean soup, but I was a little reluctant since I have never made that soup before. I have eaten it often and love it. I kinda felt that I was being challenged to see if I could come up with something great. Mom Brown wanted soup and I was not about to disappoint her.
So, thinking about the ingredients, I realized that navy bean soup would be very similar to my Mom’s Split Pea Soup. I went to the local grocery store in Iowa Falls, but I couldn’t find a ham shank, only ham hocks. Ham hocks generally don’t have as much meat as the shank cut, so it was a good thing Mom Brown had the extra ham to add to the soup. Mom Evert uses water with chicken base for the pea soup, but I wanted a richer flavor in the broth so I used chicken stock.
I’ll now be making this bean soup forever. This spur-of-the-moment recipe far exceeded my expectations. It was rich and flavorful and the perfect comfort food for a cold winter day. Make this for someone you care about, it will definitely put a smile on their face!
Footnote: Funny story. I conducted this recipe experiment in Mom Brown’s new small apartment kitchen in a senior independent living facility. The door to her apartment had been left open like many other residents. As I was heating up the oil to sauté the vegetables, a staff member stopped in and asked what I was cooking. We started chatting about soup recipes and other food and my attention shifted away from the stove. Suddenly, she said, “Your soup pot is smoking a lot!” The apartment rapidly filled with smoke, so we had to open all the doors and windows to air it out. I later found out that she had gone to the front office to warn the manager that if the building smoke alarms were activated, it was only from my overheated oil. My partner and my mother-in-law happened to be there talking with the manager and, when they heard what I had done, burst into laughter. Ron, the kitchen klutz had done it again. They noted the irony of my near disaster (had an actual fire broken out) since my day job is designing fire alarm systems for commercial buildings!