Summer Nights Quick and Easy Bean Soup

Families are struggling against a tide of junk information on junk food.
Diane Abbott

Cooking from my books this week… we were talking the other night about how can so many people afford to eat out all of the time when some of the best food comes from one’s own kitchen and with fabulously easy recipes, quick and healthy choices available…I was reading a few articles on dining out and found one that gives a few simple guidelines for eating out so I’ll put one link at the bottom of the page…enjoy.

Looking at some rain coming in and looking for something quick, easy and comforting…my great new cookbook Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark and fitting the ticket Southern Ham & Bean Soup is on the menu.  Luckily and again between the pantry, fridge and freezer I have all of the ingredients for the soup and cornbread recipe that Melissa includes.  I’m not going to change much, especially the cornbread, but I have a few favorite flavor tricks for the soup one of which is a smokey ham broth.  I used chicken stock instead of water and simmered a nice big ham hock in it for about 30 minutes, I often make the ham stock to freeze and it will come in handy for two recipes this week, the soup and a big pot of collards.

With dozens of recipes to choose from it wasn’t easy to pick one to start with so I went with how much time did I really want to invest in cooking on another busy day and clearly soup was an easy choice after I had saved too many recipes to start with.  With that said I look forward to making many of her freshened unfussy food changes packed with flavor.

Southern Ham and Bean Soup adapted from Melissa Clark

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Frank’s, plus more for serving 6 ounces cornbread (homemade, this page, or store-bought), cut into ¾-inch cubes(2 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 pound slab ham, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 15-ounce can navy beans, drained and rinsed/I wanted more beans son add another can if you like
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups sliced collard greens
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups of water/I prefer a hearty chicken broth/stock and add 1 additional cup because at least that much will simmer down making the ham broth
*optional smoked ham hock to simmer in the broth/ simmer ham hock in the broth for at least 30 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 45 MINUTES SERVES 4
If making the croutons:  Heat the oven to 300 ° .
In a small bowl, combine the melted butter with the hot sauce. Brush this over all sides of the cornbread cubes, and place them on a rack set over a half sheet pan. Bake the croutons for 30 minutes. Then remove them from the oven and set them aside, still on the rack.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and celery, and let them sweat and turn golden, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add 4 cups of water or broth and the ham, beans, bell pepper, and collards.
Bring to a simmer and season with the paprika, salt, and black pepper.
Take the back of a spoon and mash some of the beans on the inside of the pot (this will help to thicken the soup). Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. 5. Season the soup to taste, and ladle it into warmed bowls. Add a few dashes of hot sauce to each serving, and top with the cornbread croutons.

Clark, Melissa (2017-03-07). Dinner: Changing the Game (Kindle Locations 5630-5636). Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. Kindle Edition.

Print this Recipe Southern Ham and Bean Soup
http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/dining-outs-effects-health

Link to Melissa’s cornbread recipe:  https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016965-brown-butter-skillet-cornbread