soup, beans, ham, hearty, leftovers, RieslingHot, hearty and oh-so-yummy

It figures that I would finally get around to making bean soup on the first day the temperature has cracked 50 in more than three months. Since Christmas, because I had a few pounds of leftover ham in my freezer, I’ve been meaning to throw together a pot of my version of “Presidential Soup”. (which is what I’ve always called it, although you may know it as “Capital Hill Soup” or “Congressional Soup”.  Whatever it’s called, it’s full of beans. Get it?)

1 lb dried navy beans, rinsed and allowed to dry
2 smoked ham hocks
3 medium potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
6 ribs celery, chopped
2 Tbls chopped fresh parsley
2 large cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cover the beans with water and bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Drain beans into a bow or pot, retaining the liquid. Add enough additional water (or stock) to make 5 quarts. Return beans to the liquid and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 2 hours (until beans are very soft).

Cook and mash potatoes.

Add ham hocks (or just ham), potatoes, onions, celery, parsley, and garlic, and continue to simmer for another hour.

Remove hocks and cut meat into small pieces; return to soup. Simmer until soup reaches desired consistency. (It will also thicken as it cools).

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with croutons if desired. Serve with some crusty bread, green salad and a semi-dry Riesling.  By the way, the soup itself is gluten free!

Yield: approx. 2 gallons
As you can see, the recipe actually calls for ham hocks, but I just don’t like the look of them. They look too much like what they actually are…or something. I know that most of us carnivores have no problem with chicken skin (aside from the fact that it’s where the fat hides and it’s not good for us), but pig skin is an entirely different matter. Maybe it’s because pigs are sentient beings and chickens are…well, chickens are dumb. (Best not to try to follow my corkscrew logic. You’ll get a headache.)

Now, of course, I have more than a gallon of the stuff. (I really only wanted a bowl.) I’ll end up eating it for a week, which is fine because then I don’t have to think about dinner when I get home from work, then the rest of it will disappear into the recesses of my freezer, never to be seen again. I always mean to take out and eat the things I put in there, but I rarely do before they’re freezer-burned beyond recognition. I feel so guilty. I should take the pot down to the corner and start a pop-up soup kitchen.