I grew up eating Beans. My Mom would make it several times a year and I developed my recipe based on watching her. A lot of people call it Bean Soup or Navy Bean Soup. But for those who grew up in the South or with families who started out on a farm, it’s just Beans. Or sometimes I’ll call it Hock Soup because the meat is smoked ham hock or shank.
So, here’s the recipe. Make it in a big dutch oven or in a crock pot. Let it cook all day and fill your kitchen and home with its incredible aroma.
Smoked Pork Hock or Shank (you can usually get these at the grocery store)
2 bags (16 oz ea) northern or navy beans
1 medium onion diced
1 cup diced celery
3-4 gloves garlic, minced
Salt, pepper, cumin
Saute onion, celery & garlic just until softened in the bottom of your soup pot or in a skillet if using a crock pot. (Or if you feel like me, lazy, just dice it up and toss it into the pot. You’re going to be cooking it for at least 4 or 5 hours anyway). Set heat to medium (stove) or high (crock pot) & drop in the hock/shank.
Cover the hock, onions & garlic with water (about 4 cups). Add salt, pepper & cumin.
Allow to cook/simmer for about 3 hours or until the meat is loosened from the bone.
Remove the hock/shank and all loosened meat from the water with a slotted spoon and put on a cutting board—it should be loose to the point of falling off. Chop up the meat. Then add it back to the pot. Add beans—start with about half then about half again (I don’t use all of both bags—about a bag and a half). Make sure beans are fully covered with water.
Add more salt, pepper and cumin, to taste. (Why cumin? Simple. I like cumin). If you want some bite add more pepper or some cayenne.
Simmer for 2-3 hours until beans are tender. Check liquid level every half hour or so and add water as needed so that it’s soup not paste!
Make up a 9x9 pan of “Jiffy” corn bread and enjoy! (I use the mix because it’s cheap—about 50 cents—and a lot of “big shot” chefs use a mix too rather than doing it from scratch.)
This smells incredibly good cooking. Your mouth will be watering all day in anticipation, but wait. Just wait until it’s ready. You’ll have some great eating for 2 or 3 days on this.
Now, some people will use a portable blender or will scoop this into a processer to “puree” the soup. You can do that if you want (in fact some recipes for Cuban bean soup do just that and it can be delicious—especially if you use garbanzos).
But, neither my Mom nor Mamaw would be caught dead pureeing this classic, traditional soup. It just isn’t done. This is comfort food; more fundamentally it’s country food—the kind of soup that country people spend all day cooking. I wouldn’t want to mess with it by “foo-fooing” it up that way because I don’t think that it would be respectful.
The Cheap Bastid Test: How’d we do for budget on this? Well, the smoked shank cost $3.00 ($1.69/lb). The beans cost $2 and the veggies were $1. The Jiffy Mix was $1 for 2 boxes and 2 eggs cost a quarter. Total for this farm-style feast was: $7.25. It’ll feed 4 people for at least 2 days with enough left for lunch. So this is reasonably priced eating.
That's the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good! Eat Cheap! Be Grateful