Prep 30 mins
Cook 2 hrs
- 1 lb beans, dried and soaked see note
- 1⁄2 lb bacon, ends and pieces,chopped fine
- 4 medium onions, chopped
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 large carrots, peel and diced
- 1 lb plum tomato, diced
- 1 gallon stock or 1 gallon water
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon thyme, leaf
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lb smoked sausage, sliced (optional)
- Preparation Check the beans for stones.
- Pour boiling water over beans and let stand 1 hour or soak overnight and drain.
- Finely chop the bacon ends and pieces, or fat saved from a smoked ham, and cook it on a medium fire in a big pot to render the fat.
- Be sure the crumbs of fat are nicely browned, like crisp bacon.
- Add the cut up veggies (you can change the amounts to suit yourself, and add others too, ad lib) and saute in the fat.
- Add a few cloves of mashed garlic if you like it.
- Drain the beans and rinse them.
- Add the water or stock, beans and ham hock and herbs and spices.
- Bring to the boil, simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, maybe even more depending on beans, until they are very tender.
- Cut the fat and skin from the ham hock and dice it and return to the soup.
- I often cook a couple of extra ones and have beans and hocks as a meal.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- You can skim the fat, but in the cold winter, it tastes good.
- The colder it is, the better you will like fatty soups.
- If you cook it long enough, the beans and everything will break down and puree, combining with the fat to make a"creamy" consistency, that is much admired by"beanies.
- "I like to finish the soup with sliced kielbasa.
This was a great soup for a cold night. I've always loved bean and bacon soup, and this one is wonderful. I cut the recipe by four, as I didn't need the full amount. I didn't have any tomatoes, so I used a tablespoon of tomato paste instead, adding it after the vegetables and garlic had softened, and letting it saute until fragrant before adding the rest of the ingredients. I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch!