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  • Mary Kay

Doug's Hearty Bean Soup - It's EASY and Low Cal!

This is the skinny on eating better!

My hubby makes one of the easiest soups you could make. With very little preparation and very few ingredients, you toss everything into the soup pot, turn on the burner and let it simmer away for an hour or so. It can't get any easier than that!

Plus, it’s low calorie. That makes it even better, especially when some people are still working on their New Year’s resolutions. This one is so hearty you won’t even realize it’s low calorie.

It’s a perfect soup to ladle into a big soup mug, curl up and enjoy with your family. It’s hearty and warm. It has lots of protein and as many veggies as you like. You cannot make a more hearty or cheaper meal. And, the soup flavor keeps getting better as it sits over the next couple of days in the fridge. We normally scoop out of the soup pot from the fridge, what we want into separate soup bowls, and warm them up in the microwave for about a minute or so. Sometimes the reheating of the entire soup pot makes the beans a little mushy so we opt to reheat in the microwave. Plus, you can save energy by reheating the soup in individual serving bowls in the microwave.

Serves about a 10 people.

Prep your pan:

- Get out your soup pot, or whatever big pot you have around to hold a good amount of soup to serve about a dozen people.

- Set the burner on medium for a simmer.

Gather the ingredients:

2 -3 Quarts Water

1 Ham hock

1 Carrot, cleaned and diced

½ Onion, large, peeled and diced

1# White navy beans, rinsed in clear water

½ - 1 C Ham, real, diced (NOT sliced deli ham)

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

Get cooking:

- Fill the soup pot with 2 quarts water. (add more later if you like)

- Combine all ingredients in the pot and turn the burner to medium and bring to a boil. (Some people sauté the carrots and onions before adding, but it's not necessary.)

- Set the burner so it simmers for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

- Check the soup periodically to see if the beans are done. They should be softer but not mushy.

- If you think you need more water, go ahead and add more.

- About ½ hour before the soup is done, add ½-1 cup of diced ham. Use real ham. Do NOT use the preformed and tasteless sliced deli sandwich ham. You need ham that has good flavor with a little fat in it. (A perfect ham to use is leftover meat from a whole or half ham from a family dinner the day before.)

- When the soup is deemed to be done, take the ham hock out, let it cool, and cut off any meaty chunks to put back in the soup. Discard the bone.

Serving it up:

- Homemade ham soup is perfect for garnishing with shredded cheddar cheese (oops, not low calorie) or homemade croutons (low calorie if made with extra virgin olive oil).

- A grilled cheese and bacon sandwich goes well with this soup as would a nice green salad to make a “soup and sandwich” or “soup and salad” meal. Yum!

Baking our Own Memories:

We have memories of my hubby making bean soup every time we made a ham for a family dinner. He would make it the next day, or stick the ham bone in the freezer and make a couple of weeks later. It’s just something we did automatically - Make a big ham one day and the next we had delicious ham soup. It’s actually a meal tradition that’s been passed down for at least a couple of generations. My Mother and Grandmother and my Hubby’s Mother used to do the same on their farms. It was all about not wasting any food. They knew how to take leftovers and make a tasty new meal out of them.

Ham soup made out of a Sunday or Holiday ham dinner is just one of the ways we recycle, reuse, make over a meal, or whatever you’d like to call it. It’s all about feeding your family and “Baking your own Memories!"

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