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Hearty and economical - about $0.50 per serving. We started with the recipe on the back of the Goya Navy Beans can as a starting point, and made adjustments to suit our taste. A smoked ham steak is much easier to work with than hocks, and provides a lot of inexpensive protein. Grilling the ham steak (optional) gives Rudy, my "squid" husband, something to do while I'm chopping the vegetables. Be sure to use fresh garlic - the cloves should be firm and smell sweet, not too pungent.
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup baby carrots, small chopped
- 1 1⁄2 cups sweet onions, small diced (Vidalia, Maya Sweet, etc.)
- 6 fresh garlic cloves, minced
- 4 (15 1/2 ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed
- 4 cups chicken broth or 4 cups chicken bouillon, low sodium
- 1 lb ham steak, smoked
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon white pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon parsley, dried
- Heat a large soup pot on medium heat. Once the pot is hot, add olive oil. The pot should not be so hot that the oil smokes. Add chopped carrots and saute for a few minutes until slightly softened. Add diced onions, stir occasionally.
- If desired, while the vegetables saute in the pot, the ham steak may be grilled for 3-4 minutes on each side. This is not necessary, as the steak is already fully cooked, but grilling seems to improve the flavor and texture of the meat.
- When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and allow it to soften for a minute or two but don't let the garlic burn. Trim and dice the ham, removing as much of the fat as possible. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir.
- Using a ladle, carefully remove about half of the soup mixture to a blender. With the lid firmly covering the blender, and with one hand on top of the blender to keep it secure, puree the soup mixture. Return the puree to the soup pot.
- Increase heat to medium high until soup gently boils, then reduce heat to simmer. Allow soup to simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered, and stir occasionally. Do not add salt or other seasoning until after the soup has simmered. Much of the salt from the ham will simmer out and flavor the soup, so it is not necessary to add salt.
- Taste and adjust seasonings before serving. For a thicker soup, continue to simmer an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. For a thinner soup, add a few ounces of water or chicken broth.
- To "stretch" this recipe and get an additional 1-2 servings, simply add one additional can of Navy beans and about 4-6 more ounces chicken broth (or water) at the appropriate step. Adjust seasoning to taste.