I just polished off a nice bowl of this big bean soup and it was so delicious! Plus, it is healthy, low-fat, easy, and this recipe makes a big batch so you can feed a crowd or pack it away in the freezer. This is truly a ‘fill-you-up’ soup and with just a slice of bread and a green salad it is a meal.
A large basket with this recipe, a jar of beans, some carrots, celery and a small zip-close plastic bag of spices was a Christmas gift to us from Burl about the year 1994. Burl, who was still single at the time, was going through a temporary financial crisis right at Christmas time and his gift-giving budget needed some innovative ideas. Burl’s siblings also received a basket with a recipe for big bean soup, a jar of beans and all the soup fixings as their Christmas gift. So….that began a tradition with Burl as every Christmas he finds each of us a huge basket and then he goes to Trader Joe’s and finds all sorts of goodies to fill them. Everybody looks forward to Burl’s Christmas gift and what is inside that basket. Plus, Burl looks forward to the fun of gathering up all the stuff for each basket.
The original jar of beans was a variety of 15 kinds which he purchased individually in the bulk-foods section of the grocery store and mixed together, then divvied up into the jars. You can buy bags of 15-bean soup mix in the bean/rice section of most grocery stores though and don’t have to buy each kind individually. I bought this container of Gourmet Bean Blend at Costco earlier this year.
As for the ham hock, there really isn’t much meat in that weird-looking thing as it is intended mostly for flavor but it takes a long time to cook to get that flavor, like simmering for several hours. You need to cook that smoked hunk before adding it and the cooking liquid to the beans, otherwise, your beans will all be mush by the time the ham hock is cooked. I have adapted Burl’s recipe to included eight ounces of ham as an option if you want ham in your big bean soup.
I hope you give this recipe a try as it is just right for this cold, rainy time of the year.
Umm….one more thing, when you are shopping for the ingredients you might want to step over to the vitamin/supplement aisle and pick up a bottle of Beano. Just say’n………..
Rinse the beans and pick through them, remove any small stones that just may have slipped in during packing. We surely don’t want anybody going to the dentist because they chomped into a rock while eating this soup.
- 3 cups Gourmet Bean Blend, or 1 bag of 15-bean soup mix
- 1 ham hock or ham shank
- 2 quarts water
- 10 cups chicken broth
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cans diced tomatoes, (16 ounces each)
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 stalks (8” long) of celery, diced
- 1 cup celery leaves, chopped
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 4 carrots, (8” long) diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together with string
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 8 ounces diced lean ham (optional
- Spread the bean mix out on a tray or large plate and sort through them, removing and tossing out any small rocks that may have been packaged with the beans. Place the sorted beans in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Add the beans to a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the beans by 4 inches. Soak the beans uncovered for 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain the water from the beans and reserve.
- In a large heavy-bottomed soup pot, add the ham hock and cover with the 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for two hours.
- Add the reserved beans and the chicken stock to the soup pot with the cooked ham hock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about one hour. Add the diced vegetables, bay leaves, thyme, coriander and black pepper to the soup pot, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for another 45 minutes or until the largest beans of the bean mix is tender. Remove the bay leaves and the thyme bundle and discard.
- Transfer the ham bone to a cutting board and when it is cool, remove as much of the meat as possible and reserve. Ladle out 4 cups of the beans and vegetables and process them in a blender or food processor, being careful to not over fill the container with the hot beans, process in batches if necessary. Return the processed beans to the soup pot and stir to combine with the remaining beans. Stir in the lemon juice and the reserved chopped ham, adjust the seasoning if necessary, serve and enjoy!
Amount Per ServingCalories 240 Total Fat 10g Carbohydrates 40g Fiber 18g Sugar 2g Protein 16g