In our household culinary harmony usually exists, but the occasional disagreement surfaces.
Early in our marriage, I casually mentioned that I was hungry for ham and beans. Since my wife is a kind soul, she fixed me ham and beans for supper. However, when she set the bowl in front of me, I could see my disappointed reflection in the broth.
"What is this?" I asked.
"Ham and Bean soup," replied my wife.
I trolled my spoon through the bowl, attempting to find a bean, "Where are the beans?"
"I let the soup boil too long and they disintegrated," she said.
"Oh," I said.
Then I politely explained my disappointment. I told her about the ham and beans of my youth, a dish that was more a stew than a soup. My ham and beans consisted of more beans than broth and was a hearty affair. Spending my evening looking for a single bean in a bowl of ham and bean soup was more of a dainty affair. I prefer hearty.
Since that moment, I've learned to do dainty, and I enjoy my wife's ham and bean soup. It's something I look forward to this time of year. I'm OK waving the white flag with this culinary battle, but I refuse to give up any ground when it comes to boiled summer sausage.
- 1 cup dry 15 navy or Great Northern beans, rinsed (If you want to use canned beans, that would be fine.)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked ham
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 4 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
1. Rinse beans. In a 4-quart Dutch oven combine beans and 4 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. (Or, place beans in water in Dutch oven. Cover and let soak in a cool place for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.) Drain and rinse beans; set aside.
2. Add beans, thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaf, celery, onions, tomatoes, and 4 cups fresh water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Discard bones and bay leaf. Slightly mash beans in saucepan (I, however, would never mash my beans.)
3. Stir in chopped meat; heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.pass the Beano,