Dorothy Parker (above) is credited with coining the phrase “eternity is two people and a ham.” Parker, poet, satirist and one of the founders of the Algonquin Round Table, reviewed books for The New Yorker under the name “Constant Reader. ” One of her acerbic comments was about Winnie the Pooh, of which she wrote that ‘Tonstant Weader Fwowed Up,’ apparently having found Pooh and co a little too twee for her taste.
Because a ham is big it can look daunting. Big can be great when it yields good leftovers– in the case of ham, more meals just as is, sandwiches and egg dishes. At the end, the bone goes into split pea or Yankee Bean Soup which is a delicious cold weather meal. This recipe is from the New York Times which credits chef Don Pintabona of Tribeca Grill. I did the bean quick soak (read the bag) and didn’t add the escarole or Swiss Chard because the snow we had just after Christmas made going to get it more than I was willing to do but I’ll add it next time I make this soup.
Yankee Bean Soup
Serves six to eight. (I made two quarts and froze one for future meals)
1 pound navy beans or white beans, soaked overnight
3 ham hocks
1 gallon (16 cups) chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, cut into small dice
2 large carrots, cut in small dice
1 large onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, left whole
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Drain the soaked beans and discard the water. Place the beans, ham hocks, chicken broth, and bay leaf in a soup pot; do not add salt at this stage. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour, depending on how long the beans were soaked.
Heat the oil in a separate saucepan, add the celery, carrots, and diced onion, and sauté over medium heat, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Stud the whole onion with the cloves. Stir the sautéed vegetables into the beans, add the whole onion and diced potatoes, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the whole onion, bay leaf, and ham hocks. Remove the meat from the ham hocks, and dice, discarding the fat and bones.
Purée half of the soup in a blender, and return the purée to the remaining soup in the pot, along with the diced ham. Reheat the soup, and season to taste with salt and pepper and hot sauce if desired. Finally finish the soup with the addition of the parsley and thyme.
Note: When soup is finished, you may add to it 1 to 2 cups of cooked, chopped escarole, Swiss chard, or broccoli rabe for garnish if desired.
Happy New Year!