This is a family favorite of ours. We used to put french-cut beans into the soup, but now I like regular short cuts of green beans, as they hold up better when reheated.
Navy Bean Soup With Ham, Potatoes and Green Beans
1 small bag navy beans (small dried white beans)
3 small-to-medium smoked ham hocks
1 cube ham-flavored bouillon (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, cut in small dice, divided
3 large cloves garlic, mashed and diced
1/2 of a small bay leaf
1 large branch of fresh thyme, washed, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf
1 cup diced celery (small dice)
1 cup carrots, peeled and cut in small dice
1 large russet (Idaho) potato, peeled and cut in 1- to 1 1/2-inch dice
2 cups short or regular cut green beans (see note)
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Several dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)
Note: If using fresh green beans, steam them first so that they are just starting to be tender. If using frozen green beans, you can run a little hot water over them so they are partially thawed before putting in the soup.
Put the navy beans and ham hocks into a soup pot and cover with plenty of cold water (read directions on the bag, then add an additional 3 cups water than what is asked for.) Add a bouillon cube, if using, half of the diced onion, the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and celery.
Bring the soup to a simmer and cover. Let it simmer until the navy beans are starting split and are almost tender.
Add the carrots, potato, and the rest of the onion. Let cook until the potatoes are beginning to get tender. Add the green beans and let the soup cook just until the potatoes and beans are tender but not mushy. (You want the beans to retain their bright green color.)
Take the ham hocks out of the soup. Season the soup with salt and pepper and stir. Turn off the heat. Let the ham hocks cool, then, with a paring knife, cut out the meaty parts, dice them up and return to the soup pot. Discard the rest of the hocks.
Bring the soup back to a gentle simmer, add a couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce and stir into the soup. Taste the soup again for seasoning. Find and discard the bay leaf. Serve soup hot.
Note: You want a soupy consistency, as the broth of this soup is so good. If it gets too thick, just add more water, bring up to proper heat and taste again for seasoning.
Makes 8-10 servings
From Bonnie Walker