Monday October 19th, 2009 in Home Cooking
, Order In
On the short list of things I could eat every day until I die- soup is near the top. It induces a supremely comforting feeling that hardly any other food can provide. For lunch, for dinner, or simply re-heated for a quick snack- when I have a steaming bowl of soup in front of me I feel happy. Luckily most soups are relatively healthy and eating an inordinate amount during winter won’t do any permanent damage (unlike Mr. B’s ability to eat ice cream every day!) I will do my best to break it up a bit- so you aren’t reading about soups every week- but do know that when the snow starts to fly, a pot of soup permanently resides on my stove!
After another morning of wild abandon at our farmer’s market (only two weeks left!) I returned home with a cooler full of vegetables, a cold nose, and a wicked craving for soup. So I chopped and sauteed and stirred and simmered, until a big pot of soup was born. This harvest bean soup combines a basket full of fall vegetables with my favorite heirloom beans
and bits of ham for a thick, filling meal.
Two secret ingredients make this bean soup stand apart from other similar soups. The first secret is to toss a Parmesan rind into the pot. That’s right- don’t ever throw your rinds away! They add a unique deep note of nutty cheesy goodness to many soups, (including my favorite butternut squash soup), and are excellent with beans.
The second secret is to finish the dish with a splash of high quality vinegar. It brightens the flavors and adds a lovely nuance to the finished soup. For the harvest bean soup, I used a delicious Gegenebauer Apricot Vinegar
sent to me by the fun people at Cube Marketplace
. You may recall that last winter I purchased an incredible artisan polenta
from Cube and was thrilled with how well it accompanied coffee and chile braised short ribs
. Well they
were thrilled that I enjoyed Cube products and sent the vinegar to try as a thank-you.*
The apricot vinegar has a delicate flavor that hints of apricots but is not overpowering. I think it would be incredible on a blue cheese and walnut salad with bits of dried cranberries mixed in and hope to try it that way very soon!
This soup could easily be adapted into a vegetarian dish, by omitting the ham and ham bone and substituting a vegetable soup base instead of a ham base. The finished bowl of soup was hearty, satisfying, and chock full of vegetables. It kept us warm and full of energy for a busy fall weekend.
Oscar is really hoping I’ll leave the room…
*Full disclosure- The apricot vinegar was sent to me as a gift with no obligation to review, write about, or otherwise promote the product. I am sharing it with you because it was delicious and I don’t believe in keeping delicious things all to myself (besides the occasional jar of peach salsa that is…).
Harvest Bean Soup (Printable Recipe)
1 lb. Yellow Eyes Beans, soaked overnight (or dry great northern beans)
1 large Ham hock
1 lb. Cooked ham, diced into small cubes
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 large Onion, chopped (about 3 1/2 cups)
3 Carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 ears of Sweet corn, kernels removed (or 1 cup of frozen corn kernels)
1 large Red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1/4 cup diced fresh Fennel
5 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Celery sticks, strings removed and diced
1 Bay leaf
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 Parmesan rind
12 cups water
1 Tablespoon Ham Soup Base (I like Penzey’s)
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Pepper
2 Tablespoons Apricot Vinegar (or a quality white wine vinegar)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add olive oil to the pot and warm it for 1-2 minutes. Once the oil is warm, add onion, carrots, corn, red bell pepper, fennel, garlic, and celery and saute until the vegetables are softened. Next add the beans, cooked ham, and ham hock to the pot and stir to combine the ingredients. Add the bay leaf, lemon juice, Parmesan rind, water, and soup base. Stir well so that all ingredients are incorporated throughout the soup. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer the soup for about two hours or until the beans are cooked through.
Once the beans are tender, scrape the Parmesan rind with two forks to pull off any remaining cheese bits, and then remove and discard the rind along with the bay leaf. Add salt, pepper, and vinegar to the soup and stir to combine. Taste the soup and add additional salt, pepper, and vinegar until the taste is to your liking. Serve with grated Parmesan on top alongside crusty bread.