Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ham and Bean Soup

Happy Fall

I'm on a soup kick, can you tell? It's supposedly Fall and even though it's 95 degrees outside and the air conditioner is on, I feel the need to pretend it feels like Fall. I know eventually it will show up...I hope.

This recipe comes from my other grandmother - Grandma Baker. I remember having this when I was growing up. It was always so hearty and belly warming. We especially like it with a some ketchup squeezed on the top. Sounds weird but it works, trust me. 

I called my grandmother the other day to make sure I had the recipe right. We went through it over the phone and then I proceeded to make it that day. The next evening she called and said she had forgotten to tell me to add celery to the soup. I told her I had already made it and it was still delicious without the celery. So no worries if you don't have any celery on hand.

I made this in the slow cooker or crock pot as we used to call them. Throw all the ingredients in and walk away for 8 hours. Talk about an easy meal. There is none of that, what am I going to fix for dinner tonight stuff. The hardest part of this meal is having to smell the deliciousness cooking all day long. If you don't have a slow cooker, you could cook this in the oven on low - 250 degrees for 4-6 hours. Just watch it and stir it occasionally. When the ham falls off the bone, it's pretty much ready to eat.

I use dried beans for this. The night before you're going to make this soup and before you go to bed, rinse the beans in a colander, removing anything that doesn't look like a bean. Add them to a large bowl and add enough water to cover them by about two inches. They'll soak it all up. I just drape a kitchen towel over the bowl and leave it on the counter. In the morning, drain the water off the beans and rinse again. They're ready to be cooked at this point.

A friend of mine said this was the best soup I have made so far. I haven't made that many but I still took it as a huge compliment. :-) I have to say, it's pretty tasty.

Ham and Bean Soup

1 ham shank or 2 small ham hocks
2 cups chopped carrot
1 cup celery
1 16oz package of dried Great Northern beans soaked overnight 
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped
32 oz chicken stock
1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker. I start it on high for about 30 minutes to get it going and then turn it down to low. Cook it on high for 4-6 or low for 6-8. When the ham falls off the bone, it's done. Break up the ham in the soup, remove any bones, and remove the sprig of rosemary (the leaves should have fallen off into the soup). Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. I added fresh parsley before serving.  Serves 8-10 easily.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thomas Goulash

I decided to use the vintage look on this photo since the recipe is vintage. 

This comes from my dearly departed and sorely missed grandmother. For the longest time she called it Spanish Goulash but as it became a family favorite and because she made it so often, she renamed it Thomas Goulash which is much more fitting (Thomas was her last name).

It's heartier than a soup but lighter than a stew. Perfect for a weeknight meal because it's easy, delicious and will warm your belly. My cousin loves this so much that whenever he would go visit my grandma, he would request that she make it. We all feel the same way. Obviously mine is missing my grandmother's touch but it still brings back memories of her and of growing up when my mom would make it. I think that is what makes some recipes so special, the special memories that they conjure up when you bite into something you have shared with others you love.

Again as with many of my recipes, you'll wonder when you see the ingredients how this could be good, but hopefully you have come to trust me on this when I say, just try it, I know you'll love it. It's good on its own but you can always slice up some nice warm bread or get out the saltine cracker's to serve with it.

Thomas Goulash

2     red, green or yellow pepper chopped
1     small onion, chopped
1     pound hamburger or ground turkey
1     cup small shell macaroni
1     28oz can tomatoes (can use diced or whole) or 2 - 14oz cans of diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic
1     16 oz package of frozen peas, carrots and corn
2     cans (10 1/2 oz) Campbell's Condensed Vegetable Soup (w/alphabet), not beef
1     teaspoon garlic salt
1     tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper

In a large saute pan, add the onion, peppers and hamburger/turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until meat is done. Drain off any fat. 

In a large soup pot over medium heat, add the tomatoes, frozen vegetables, vegetable soup, garlic salt and sugar. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add meat mixture to soup. Stir to combine. Cover and let simmer. 

In a small saucepan, heat water and cook macaroni until al dente - follow box instructions. When done, drain and add to soup. Mix well and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot.

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