The beauty about making soups is that your heart is your leftover meat carcass and using whatever veggies, starch, etc that fits your whimsy. This turned out great and I will provide for you the process...(you may need to taste along the way)
18 Bean Soup
- Get from your grocery your brand of 18 bean mixture of choice (some have a ham flavor packet or cajun seasoning packet, you decide if you want to use it....my mix had a bouquet garni in it...so why re-create the wheel...I used it.)
- Gather all the veggies you like in your soup. (I always start with a chunky 'holy trinity' of celery and the leaves, onions and carrots)
- Also needed: large chicken broth, 29 oz canned of whole tomatoes and garlic cloves. If you are not using your provided flavor packet, create your own "garni"...place your favorite combo of fresh herbs in a cheesecloth and tie it closed with butchers twine.
- My recipe said to soak beans overnight. I didn't. I filled my large stock pot with water to cover my ham bone. Since I know beans take a long time to soften and so does the ham to 'fall off the bone'....I cooked the ham off the bone, beans and herb garni at the same time. I was boiling it, not simmering. I stirred it several times and about 1-1/2 hours.
- While the bone and beans (that sounds funny) were cooking I prepped my veggies, opened my tomatoes, readied my broth, mashed my garlic.
- Take out the bone when you can see when the meat is starting to separate from the bone. Put it to the side to cool off (trust me, it's way too hot to pluck the meat off now) while your meat is cooling add all your veggies.
- Stir in your chicken broth, tomatoes, garlic. I threw in some canned hominy since K-man loves it. Now is the time to adjust your salt, pepper and any other herb flavors you want. Taste the broth as you add. I could not tell you what was in my bouquet garni...but it definitely had something like allspice or nutmeg, nice addition.
- Cook your veggies until they are about to soften. Pick off your meat from the bone, making to sure cut away all the extra fat that comes with ham and any other inedible mystery pieces. As you cut them off, dump them back into your pot to simmer.
- By the time you are done cutting your meat....your veggies should be soft enough. Since your meat is already cooked....you are ready to eat.
- Serve with some crusty rolls and you are good to go!!!