smoked ham + bean soup

As I write this, Seattle is preparing for snowmageddon 2012. Or snowpocalypse, depending on what local television station you watch. Whatever you call it, we’re due to get hit with a lot of snow thru Wednesday. Quick! Run {if you still can get out of your driveway} to you nearest store and pick up the ingredients for this soup. Throw in some salad stuff and a great thick, chewy loaf of bread and you’ll be happily sated for the next few days. Yes, you will want to eat this for multiple meals. It’s that good. I can’t remember if it was my grandmother or mom that first made this soup but all I know is I always loved it. And it’s a soup that I’ve been making for what seems like forever. Just ten ingredients {okay, eleven if you count the water} and super easy, it is a favorite in our house. And it freezes and reheats great when stored in a good, air-tight container. Just leave out the cream until you reheat the soup and it will keep in the freezer for up to three months. What will you be eating while we’re snowed in?  {oh, p.s. – sorry for the fuzzy pic…still getting use to my new fixed lens.}

Smoked Ham and White Bean Soup
serves 8 – 10
3lbs. smoked ham hocks {about 6-8 pieces]
1 bay leaf
4 – 15 ox. canned cannellini beans, drained + rinsed
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled + diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 large potatoes, diced into ½” cubes
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
freshly ground black pepper

1 cup heavy whipping cream
In a large soup pot, add the ham hocks making one layer if possible. Cover with enough water so that there is at least 1″ above the meat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a rolling simmer. Add bay leaf, cover and cook for 1 to 1 ½ – until ham hocks are tender. Turn heat off and remove ham hocks to a cutting board and let cool. When they are cool enough to handle, pull meat from the skin and bones and shred. Before adding the meat back to the pot, remove bag leave and using a large spoon, skim any fat off the top of the stock and discard. 
Return stock to high heat; add ham hock meat,  beans, onion, carrots, celery, potato and thyme. Add pepper to taste. There is enough salt from the smoked hocks you shouldn’t need any extra salt. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add cream. Stir well to incorporate then serve. 
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