Do me a favor and save the bone! The ham bone that is. When I was a child, I remember my mother saving the ham bone from Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter, and freezing it for months on end. Which is, kind of gross when you think about it! Just imagine for a moment, the disgust on the face of a blossoming and bratty child when they open the freezer for a popsicle and instead finding the meat and bone of an almost completely devoured pig leg in our freezer. I know, that was graphic, but sometimes life is graphic and I’m not about to write a politically corrected version of my memories in order to satisfy the overly sensitive types out there.. But, I digress. Lets look at this beautiful Thyme.
This meal in my opinion, is pure and unadulterated love in a bowl. It’s truly a labor of love, as I like to slow boil the ham bone and vegetables for 4-5 hours before adding the beans in order to develop the flavors and disintegrate the marrow in the bone. The total preferred time it takes for the full flavor of this soup to come out will take roughly hours. But in all honesty, you could shave off a few hours if you add the beans earlier and don’t care too much about the melding of flavors in a magical unicorn sort of way. It’s your own creation and you have the power to do with it as you will.
The original recipe found here, calls for soaking dried beans for 24 hours, BUT.. for the life me, I NEVER pre-think this part, so I end up getting canned beans instead, which is why I throw them in last.
- 4 (14.5 oz.) cans of Navy Beans – no salt
- 1 Ham Bone
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Large Onion – diced
- 6-10 Cloves Garlic – minced
- 3 carrots – peeled and chopped
- 3 celery stalks – chopped
- 10 sprigs of fresh Thyme
- 1 tablespoon crushed fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 10 cups of water – add more to the pot as it boils down. It will disintegrate throughout the cooking time.
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base – optional
- Using a 6.5 quart pot, sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add salt and an ungodly amount of black pepper.
- Add the hambone to the pot, cover the entire bone and meat with water and bring to a boil on high heat.
- Once the water comes to a rapid boil, add Thyme, rosemary and cumin and turn down the heat to medium.
- Slow boil for 4-5 hours, adding water as you go to make sure the bone stays under the liquid at all times.
- At the 5 hour mark, you can pull the bone from the pot and start pulling off the meat from the bone. Add the meat only back to the pot. There is no need to chop the meat as it should be pretty easy to break apart at this point. But again – this is your ballgame, and you may do what you think is best. Discard the bone.
- Meanwhile rinse the canned beans. *Make sure to rinse them until all of the bubbles disappear (cooking tricks 101).
- Taste your stock and add seasoning as needed. Mine needed some more saltiness, so I added a teaspoon of the bouillon.
- Add beans to the pot for two more hours, making sure the bone stays submerged under the liquid. Add water as needed.
- Before serving, puree 1/4 of the soup right there in the pot to give it a rich thickness.
- Serve with crusty bread, buns, or salad.