While I was poking around I discovered the ham bone I'd saved from Easter dinner (I also found the ham bone I'd saved from the *previous* Easter's dinner but that's a story for another time.) I always loved my mother-in-law's bean soup which she made after Easter with the ham bone, and fortunately I had the recipe so here it is!
2 quarts boiling water
1 bay leaf
8 peppercorns (I didn't count)
1 onion, peeled
3 whole cloves
1 lb. great Northern beans
I know there's an enormous divide among those who believe beans need to be soaked and those who don't. I decided to be on the safe side and I soaked the beans overnight in cold water.
If there are any good bits of ham still clinging to the bone, or if you've saved some ham, cut it into bite-sized pieces and put it aside.
Put all of the above in a large soup pot, bring to a boil, skim the foam from the top and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. My beans must have been very fresh because they only took 2 hours to become soft and tender.
Optional step: Since I had time before dinner, I put the soup in the refrigerator until the fat congealed on top making it super easy to remove.
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Leftover cubed ham
salt and pepper to taste
You will note there are no quantities for some of these ingredients. The recipe called for 6 carorts, 3 parsnips and 3 onions. That seemed excessive especially given the size of my carrots. I put in 1 parsnip, 2 carrots and 1 onion. It made for a full pot of soup and I didn't think it needed anymore. Use your judgment. If you LOVE carrots, you can add more.
Add the above along with the ham to the soup pot and cook another 30 minutes or until the veggies are cooked. Mine took forever. Note to self: make thinner slices next time.
Add a sprinkle of paprika (about a teaspoon or to taste), stir and serve. If you want to go all retro, enjoy with buttered saltines. If you want to be very grown-up, serve with good crusty bread.
For more good recipes, and a good mystery, pick up a copy of Berry the Hatchet, #2 in my Cranberry Cove series!