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A Cooking Adventure with Thom

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Ham Bone, Greens, and Bean Soup

Serves: 6



This is an excellent soup, flavorful, rich, easy to make, and filled with tender beans and an array of seasonal vegetables that you can vary with what's available.  But no matter what you do, strive to include the cabbage, which, cooked for almost an hour, softens into translucent, marrow-imbued bits that melt on the tongue.



1 cup dried pinto beans
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, trimmed and diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ham bone (1 1/4 pounds), cut into half or thirds (ask your butcher to do this for you)
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (about 8 cups)
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Hot sauce or cider vinegar, for serving

Cooking Method

1. Soak the beans in plenty of cold water overnight. If you don't have that much time, you can use the quick soak method: In a large pot, bring the beans and plenty of cold water to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the beans.

2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and save for garnishing the soup. Add the carrots, celery, and onion to the bacon fat in the pan. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.

3. Drop in the ham bone and bay leaf into the pot and add 8 cups water and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat; add beans, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in the kale and simmer until the kale is soft, but still vibrantly green, about 15 minutes. If you're like me, you'll want to remove the meat and delicious fatty bits from the ham bone, chop them up, and stir them back into the soup. Season with pepper, a dash of hot sauce or vinegar, and more salt, if needed. Crumble the reserved bacon on top.

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