and the recipe was requested.
1 pkg (1 lb) Great Northern beans1 ham hock
2 boxes (32 oz. each) chicken stock (organic, if possible)
8 medium potatoes, diced
8 ribs celery, diced
8 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 (29 1/2 oz) cans of plum tomatoes (I used Trader Joe's)
2 packages of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix
2 T. pepper
Soak beans overnight in a large soup pan. In the morning, rinse. To the beans, add the chicken stock and the ham hock and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Remove the ham hock to cool. Separate the beans and the stock by draining the beans through a colander so you end up with the broth in one bowl and the beans in the colander. Return the broth to the pan, set aside the beans. (Setting aside the beans at this point, while the vegies are cooking, keeps the beans from overcooking and getting mushy.)To the stock, add the vegetables*. Cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Remove the ham from the ham hock, dice, and add to the soup.Cut the canned tomatoes into bite-size pieces and add, with the juice, to the soup.
Return the cooked beans to the soup.Add the two packages of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix and pepper.
Simmer until the soup has heated through. Serve with crusty, warm bread and butter.
(*For quicker cooking, place the diced vegies in a two-cup glass measuring cup, microwave two minutes, and then add to the broth to continue cooking until done. It works out that two cups is about the measurement of each vegie in the recipe, so I diced the potatoes, nuked them, dumped them in. While they were nuking, I diced the celery, then nuked them, etc.)
That's basically it. Normally I add a bay leaf and peppercorns when I cook the beans and ham hock, but this time I didn't. You can. You can also add any other vegies you like or have on hand. I think I had a half a green pepper so I diced and added that. You can also omit the potatoes if you feel that having both beans and potatoes is too much starch. Where I come from you can never have too much starch, except maybe in your shirt collar.
This makes an enormous pot of soup! To make it easier to handle, I divided the stock, beans, and diced ham in half after they were cooked. I then made twin pots, one for us, one for a friend, adding half the vegies and seasonings to each pot. You could also freeze one-half at this point and then add the remaining ingredients at another time and have a "fresh" pot all over again.
It's also, by the way, a thick and hearty soup. If you like it brothier (could be a word), you could add more chicken broth, water, tomato juice, wine ... How can you not love making soup?! It's so fun to be creative and so hard to make it wrong. The only thing really original about what I did was using the Good Seasons dressing mix.
If any of you chefs out there see anything that sounds askew, let me know. I just typed this up from my memory and you all know how reliable that is ~ not to mention my typing!
Wing it and enjoy!