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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quick Ham & Bean Soup

I tell you, this is going to be an interesting few months... we just spent the last few weeks on vacation and had a lovely time in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. If you are ever in the Branson area and are looking for a nice place to stay, give a look to Dogwood Canyon's cabins. Of course, it was hotter than heck... and there was no Internet. Are we pathetic, or what? Perhaps it would have been easier if we'd just flat out had no service at all, but we had glimpses of it on our phones, which just taunted us for the entire week. Anyway. We had a good time despite the heat and lack of connectivity.

Now that we're home, we are preparing for the packers to arrive next week. Unfortunately, our housing has not come through yet on the base where we're headed, so we'll be going into temporary housing for a while. I've all of a sudden realized that I will be without my kitchen for at least a month, possibly longer! It has started a panic in me, and I find myself wandering through my kitchen deciding which items I can't live without for that long... my butcher knife and favorite paring knife are definitely coming with me. Beyond that, I'm still trying to decide.

This is also the first time I will be moving without taking my stocked freezer with me. In all my previous moves, we've gone door to door, so I simply locked a few pounds of dry ice in my upright freezer and moved it with everything in it. We can't do that this time. I foresee more weekly shopping and detailed meal planning on my horizon. Who knows? Maybe that will be a good thing. Hopefully, I will still be able to bake and experiment in my transient kitchen. I guess we'll find out soon!

In the meantime, we're trying to clean out the pantry and fridge here, so I made a quick and simple ham and bean soup for dinner tonight. It turned out great and it was done in about 30 minutes. You just can't complain about that.

Here are the basic ingredients. What you're not seeing here is the bacon strips, broth, and herbs.

The general plan with this soup is to first render the fat out of the bacon, saute the vegetables, simmer the broth, puree, and then add final ingredients. Did I mention this soup is fast?

Quick Ham & Bean Soup
Yield: 4 servings

2 slices bacon
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1-2 TBS minced garlic
4 cups Knorr vegetable broth
2 15-oz cans Navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cubed ham
salt & pepper to taste

In a stock pot, cook the bacon until all the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Set the bacon aside for garnish or eat as the cook's reward. Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the bacon fat until translucent. Add the broth, bay leaves, thyme, and Navy beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the celery is tender.

Carefully puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. Return to the pot and add the black beans and cubed ham. Heat through and serve! Garnish with crumbled bacon, if desired.
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