Whether she was referencing food, supplies or clothing, getting the most use out of something was a
skill that my grandmother perfected. Growing up in the post-depression era and being the wife of a
humble farmer, my grandmother was not one to waste anything. Her “make it stretch” mentality was
passed on to my mother and I, and it’s one that I often put to use after big holiday meals. My kids have
gotten used to my frugal ways and the first thing they say after the Easter ham has been sliced is, “Be
sure to save the bone!”
Using the ham bone in my house is not only frugal, it’s an absolute culinary must. Ham bones are loaded
with flavor and are great for adding a delicious depth to otherwise ordinary dishes. Bean soups
especially benefit from a long simmer with a ham bone, whether or not there’s much meat left on it.
However, if there is, simply slice it off after making the ham stock and add it to the soup.
Here is a delicious recipe for a ham and bean soup that my family absolutely loves. It is very easy and the
best thing about it is that you can add additional ingredients, more ham, potatoes, or veggies and it still
turns out great! It’s a hearty, simple, yet flavorful soup that’s ready in only an hour. This soup is perfect
for using up all of that leftover Easter ham! You might even consider making a double batch, because
this soup just gets better over time. We typically enjoy it for dinner the first night and lunch for several
If you plan to use dried beans, you will have to soak them before adding them to your soup. (If you’re in
a hurry, you could always save a step and substitute canned beans.)
Prepare your dried beans by following these steps:
1. Pick over the beans. Spread the beans out on a cookie sheet and check for small stones. Remove any small stones and broken or discolored beans.
2. Wash the beans. Rinse the beans under cool running water to remove any dust.
3. Soak the beans using the overnight method or the quick-soak method.
Overnight Method: Place the beans in a bowl and cover with cool water and let them sit overnight.
Quick-Soak Method: Place the beans in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Cover tightly, remove from the heat and let rest for one hour.
4. Discard the water. Whether you use the overnight or quick-soak method, you’ll need to drain the soaking water from the beans before using them in your soup.
HAM, BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
*Available at the Market
1 leftover hambone
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic; minced*
1 medium onion; diced*
2 carrots; peeled and diced*
1 large potato; peeled and diced*
1 cup white beans; soaked, drained and rinsed (white kidney, great northern or navy)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves*
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper; to taste
2 cups ham; cooked and diced
Place hambone in a large stockpot.
Add enough water to cover the hambone halfway, about 6-7 cups.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, about 30 minutes to 1 hour; remove and discard hambone. Set ham stock aside.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the garlic, onion, carrots and potato.
Cook until onions have become translucent, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes.
Add in ham stock, kidney beans, corn, thyme and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Add in diced ham and stir until heated through, about 1-2 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!