Friday, December 25, 2009

Soup Base for Ham, Pea, and Lentil Soup

Winter is SOUP TIME! I always make a ham base for my bean soups. It's really quite easy and makes all the difference, especially since one doesn't always just happen to have a "ham bone" on hand.

  • 2-3 pounds smoked ham shanks or smoked ham hocks or smoked ham neck and back bones or a combination
  • 1 onion roughly cut
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1-2 carrots, cut into fourths
  • 1-2 celery stalks, cut into fourths
  • about six cups of water

Rinse the ham "parts" really well and place into a stock pot. Fill with water and swirl then drain to clean bones even more. Add the rest of the ingredients and add water until covered. Bring to a SLOW boil and then immediately lower to a simmer. Skim off foam. Cover and simmer for 8 hours. I usually put it on the stove before I go to bed. An electric stove works best for this. You will get a clearer stock if it doesn't boil.

When cool enough to handle, strain through a colander. And then strain through a sieve. You'll have a rich broth with which to make soup. Place in the refrigerator overnight and remove the fat that rises to the top. You'll be left with a very rich and gelatinous stock with which to make a great bean soup. You can store this in the freezer. I like to use 3-4 cup tupperware-like containers.

Recipe for bean soup is here: Kitchen Bounty: Bean Soup