This cold snap has been a DOOZY. Our woodstove has been going at full tilt for the past few weeks, and I’ve been taking advantage of its radiant power to do a lot of my cooking. The cold weather has made me crave hearty soups, and I’ve learned that there’s nothing like a good fire to keep your soup pot simmering all afternoon.
This week I started with some ham bones from one of my ham roasts I home-cured last summer. Ham bones have a lot of flavour, and they lend a lot of flavour to soups. Split pea soup is usually the most traditional pairing with ham, but I had a bunch of black beans and kidney beans I wanted to use up, so I decided to make a spicy batch of soup that I kind of thought was reminiscent of Louisiana red beans and rice. Normally, I presoak my beans overnight, but this time I just let the beans simmer for a few hours on the stove until they were almost cooked. This recipe will work just fine either way.
- 1 pound black beans or kidney beans, or combo, soaked overnight
- 3/4 cup chopped onions
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 6 cups ham broth (or use 6 cups water with meaty ham bone or ham hock)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 sweet red bell pepper, diced (or diced oven roasted tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or red wine vinegar
I skipped the presoaking and just simmered the beans for a few hours until they were tender. When soft, drain the beans and give them a good rinse. (You lose nutrients by rinsing beans, but I’ve found that they have a less….. explosive effect later if you follow this step!)
Add the onions, celery and bay leaf. Cover it up with ham broth (or use water and a ham bone) and simmer for about 1/2 an hour.
Add red bell pepper or oven roasted tomatoes, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, brown sugar, lemon juice or red wine vinegar. Simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove ham bone. Puree the soup, if desired. I used a stick blender for about 10 seconds to get it smooth, but I didn’t want to get rid of all the texture. If desired, cut up ham from bone (or leftovers from your roast) and add to soup.
Top each serving with a bit of grated cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, a splash of hot sauce, and a sprinkling of chopped green onions. Instant warmth!