Sunday, December 30, 2012

13 Bean Soup Smoked Ham Hock

Nothing like a tasty bean soup to warm you on a cold winter's day.

13 Bean Soup - Smoked Style

We have a running joke in my household. You see, my wife is one of those "bland soup makers." I'm not knocking her cooking, because it's darn good. You just have to put your own seasonings in if you want to spice it up. She could very well cook for Campbell's if she wanted to.  I think they would love her. You know maybe even sell those big restaurant style soups that are bulk commercial soup with no salt in it.  When it comes to Bean soup, she isn't aloud to cook it.  That's my job.

Everything I cook has it's own taste and flavor. Maybe too much, I don't know. I have a real passion for smoking everything. They key to a good bean soup I believe is the smoked flavor. If you think about it, your beans are "soakers." They are going to soak up whatever flavor you put in there. No flavor means bland beans. I hate that.

How to get that Smoked Flavor

You can obtain this one of three ways. I use #2 and #3.

1.  The first of course is adding some type of liquid smoke or smoke flavoring to your foods. I call this cheating but it's easy, and quick. Problem is if you over do it, you are going to throw your bean soup out real fast.

For most of us, I suggest the other two ways.

2. Simmering your bacon in a fry pan until it's nice and crispy. Using some of the bacon and bacon fat in your soup.  Yes, that's right, I'm telling you to add a little bacon fat - read this article as surprisingly bacon fat is much healthier than some fake fats we stick in our bodies. Not a lot, just a little will go a long way.

3. Here's something not many people think of.  When you save a ham hock from your family meal or baked ham, make it a point to smoke it on the barbeque pit within a few days to dry it out, smoke it, and remove the excess fat. Then you can freeze it so it's smoked up for your soup.  You are using bacon fat in #2 so you don't need that extra lard from the fatty part of the hock. What you do need however is SMOKED FLAVOR. I sear it good and lock in that flavor.

Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix
You can find this soup mix here. 

My Preferred Beans

I use Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix.  It's organic and for some reason the beans seem to take a lot less longer to cook than traditional store bought beans. To me, it's a good way to get in navy beans, pinto beans, small and large limas, black beans, garbanzo beans, red lentils, black eyed peas, great northern beans, kidney beans and so many more in this mix. One package will do a huge stock pot of soup for the family.

Overnight Prep

You should soak the beans overnight in the fridge.  Make sure to put in extra water these babies will soak it right up.  Pull out your ham hock that's frozen and start to thaw.

My 13 Bean Soup Recipe

5 Slices of Bacon, cooked crispy
Two teaspoons Bacon Juice
1 Frozen presmoked Ham Hock
1 Bag of Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup
1-2 Stalks of Celery, diced small
1/4 Medium White Onion diced small
Salt, Pepper to taste

Begin by simmering your bacon in a fry pan and start your ham hock boiling in a stock pot.  I use my Rachael Ray cookware (been very pleased with it, has lasted me over a year at home and that's saying something) 6qt stockpot, but you can use any size larger for this recipe. Cover the hock completely with water and let it boil down until the hock is falling apart (about an hour or less).

Meanwhile I get my bacon crispy and crumble it up in the soup pot. Two teaspoons of bacon grease goes int the stockpot too. I wipe out the fry pan leaving a bit of coating for simmering up my celery and onions, until they are somewhat cooked and toss them in to. Now you have your base boiling away.

Remove your ham hock and let it cool, picking it clean and tossing the rest of the edible ham into the pot.

I picked this bad boy clean.
The beans, which have been soaking overnight should be drained in a strainer and rinsed just to remove any additional debris. Toss them into your stock pot.  Bob's recommends a 3 to 3.5 hour simmer on the beans but truth be told I have found that within an hour and a half my soup is delicious and my beans are tender.

Salt and pepper to taste.


Yum. Eat and Enjoy. If you have extras be sure to freeze extras on day one, to avoid any further breaking down of the beans. When reheating, do so low and slow on low flame.

Read more of my recipes here under Recipes.

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