Lima Bean and Ham Soup
Serves 4 to 6
Goodness, I love soup and this hearty bean soup recipe that came from my mother is no exception. Although it takes some time to cook, it is easy to prepare. Make it on a weekend, refrigerate for up to three days and reheat for a quick weeknight meal served with some crusty bread.
- 1 pound dried baby or small lima beans
- Water to cover beans
- 2 ham hocks or 1 meaty ham bone
- 2 quarts cold water
- 4 large celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) whole tomatoes, crushed with hands, with juices
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Place beans in a large soup pot. Add water to cover by 2-inches. Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour. Pour into colander to drain. Return beans to pot. Add ham hocks and 2 quarts water. Place over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, or until meat and beans are tender.
Remove meat from pot. Discard the bones and excess fat. Cut into small pieces. Return to pot. Add the carrots, celery, onions and tomatoes. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the oil and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low, just until the garlic starts to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Stir or whisk in the flour. Add the paprika, marjoram and thyme. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, being careful not to allow the mixture to get too brown. Take about 1 cup broth from the finished soup and whisk it into the flour mixture until smooth and thickened, about 2 more minutes. (If it thickens too much, whisk in a little water.) Stir into the soup until well-blended; cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Serve, passing the grated cheese separately.
Notes: I have made this soup using less meat, such as one ham hock or a small ham bone with very little meat, and either adds a good, smoky flavor. The recipe can easily be halved or doubled.