Leah’s Amazing Double Bean Soup

Leah’s Amazing Double Bean Soup

 

This time of year many people and cultures eat beans for good luck. I make Leah’s Amazing Double Bean Soup to clean out my fridge after the holidays and to put up some hearty freezer food for easy dinners this winter. Here’s the thing: I don’t eat beans – doesn’t matter what kind – I think they are gross (I eat green beans, so I guess I’m really talking about legumes here, but… semantics).

But I’ve got this recipe so dialed in I don’t even have to taste it – that’s why it’s AMAZING.

Leah’s Amazing Double Bean Soup Recipe

  • 1 Ham Bone – you can do it without a ham bone with some cheater tricks, but if you ate Ham for Christmas, use what you have left. – remove any meat you can easily cut off.
  • 2-3 cups (or more) of Ham – Dice in bite size pieces. Whatever is left over; or if the ham was so good we ate it all dice a ham steak.
  • 6 onions total. Peel, remove stem end, and quarter 2. I like to mix sweet and sharp ones. Rough Chop remaining onions.
  • 1-3 Shallots – depending on size – you want about a cup of chopped shallot – or skip it, but I cook with shallots all the time.
  • 4-10 garlic cloves – peel and smash with the side of a knife – no need to get fancy – use as much as you like.
  • 6 large carrots – 2 of them cut into three inch pieces – rough chop the rest in bite size pieces.
  • 2-6 stalks of celery – Leave 2 whole, rough chop the rest.
  • 48 ounces of Swanson’s Chicken Broth – The big one – or two of the 32 ounce ones.
  • 2 bags of Hurst’s HamBeens. These are the ones I use the most. Their beans cook up nicely. But in a pinch any store brand bean soup mix of beans will so, so long as it has the Ham flavor packet inside.
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions for Making Double Bean Soup

It’s Double Bean Soup because you use beans to make a silky smooth base and also cook beans to add to the base. It’s really not hard even though is seems long winded, it does usually take me 2 days to get it all done. It’s mostly combining ingredients and cooking them for a long time while ignoring them – my favorite kind of cooking.

  1. In your largest pot, dump ONE bag of Hurst’s HamBeens, the flavor packet, Onion quarters, smashed garlic, 3 inch pieces of carrots, 2 celery stalks, 32 ounces of Swanson’s Chicken Broth (2/3 of the big one), and the ham bone. I add an optional whole peeled shallot. Add enough water to double the volume – or as much as you can fit in the pot and not boil over. A bag of Hursts HamBeens
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down to low and cook the living daylights out of the whole thing, anywhere from 6-12 hours. Set an alarm for every couple of hours and add water to keep the level of the base nice and high. Stir as often as you remember, but for me that usually means never. You don’t want it to cook down and burn the bottom. I usually toss this together at bedtime and cook overnight – but if you do this, make sure you are using a large enough pot and lots of water so it doesn’t cook dry, burn, and start a fire, cause that would suck.

    Bone and Beans in pot
    Ham Bone Ready to cook for the best flavor and mouth feel
  3. Once everything has cooked to mush (except the ham bone), turn off the heat and let it cool. Optional, but makes #4 easier.
  4. Skim off any excess fat and scum. Or not – your call. While steps 2-4 are happening you can prep steps 7 and 8 I usually do it with two pots, but you can absolutely do this all in one pot, I have done it before.
  5. Fish out the ham bone (all the meat will probably have cooked off), celery, and large carrot pieces. – My toddler twins think the carrots are a treat and will chow down on them. Keep the ham bone.
  6. Get out your stick blender and take a couple passes at the pot of soup. You aren’t trying to food process it, just break up any remaining beans. Zip Zip Zip and you are done.

    Cuisinart Smart Stick in a Pot of soup
    Blend for maybe 30 seconds using a pulse.
  7. Now strain the soup. I use a chinois strainer, but a food mill or any fine strainer will work. The point of this step is to separate the soup from as much of the bean skin as possible. You will use a spoon or tool to push the soup through the strainer and remove the bean skins. (When we had chickens I fed the mashed skins to my hens). Now you have a beautiful thick and velvety Bean Soup Base that is relatively low in fat and has no added starch.

    Finished straining the soup
    Finished Soup Base is smooth and could be frozen on its own
  8. In a soup pot dump the second bag of beans, 16 ounces of chicken broth, second Ham flavoring packet, and if you are already done with steps 1-7 the now naked ham bone. Bring to a boil, turn to low and cook for 2-4 hours. These are the beans that will be in the soup so cook them until they are to your taste. Some people like them with more of a bite than others.

    Close up of a pot of beans
    Look at all those pretty beans. Too bad I don’t eat them
  9. I usually quickly brown the onions and carrots in a sauce pan with some butter and add enough water to cook them to taste, but you can also (and I have) add them to the second batch of beans when you have 1 hour remaining. Here’s where you can add your chopped celery, if that’s how you roll.

    Ham on a cutting board with a knife
    This is clearly not celery.
  10. Combine the whole mess together. Bean base, cooked beans and the pot liquor, cooked onions, cooked carrots, cooked celery, and chopped ham. Add salt and pepper to taste, but to warn you, the ham and chicken broth will generally be salty enough on their own. Warm through, serve with bread or crackers, and poof you are done.

    A bowl of Double Bean Ham Soup
    Serve with crackers or crusty bread. Apples slices nicely complement the ham flavor.

20 years of practice to make soup I don’t eat

I know it seems bananas to take cooking advice from someone who has never eaten a single bowl of this soup. I’ve been making it for 20 years now and everyone loves it but me, I swear.

Pro tips:

  • Make only the base and freeze it labeled ‘Bean Soup Base’. Then you only have to do steps 7-9 for soup.
  • Ham Flavor Better Than Bouillon can substitute for the ham bone, but it’s not quite as silky as cooking the bone.
  • If you burn the bottom of the soup, you can save the top, so long as you don’t stir the burnt bits into the soup. So if you detect that telltale crust on the bottom of the pot, stop stirring immediately, pour off the top layer and remove the burn bits from the pot.
  • Freeze in single servings of 1.5-2 cups.
  • You can double the Soup Base recipe and double the beans recipe, but unless you’ve got a really really big pot, it’s hard to double the whole thing.

 

I’ll explain to you one day what it is like to be a super taster with a picky pallet. Some super tasters become ultimate foodies. Then there are those like me who become improbably picky adult eaters…………… Don’t even get me started on cilantro.

We share in Fort Birthday

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