Have you ever tried to buy a ham with the bone still in? It's nearly impossible to buy a bone-in ham at most grocery stores today, which is too bad because the ham bone is the keeper of mystical flavors. Luckily butchers still exist today (although they are disappearing too) and they still carry hams with bones. And luckily, my parents frequent a great butcher in Sterling, Colorado. The best ham and bacon this side of - well just about anywhere. My parents also frequently stock us up on pork products. And I love them for it.
I've made enough chicken stock to know that a cook should never through away a bone or carcass before cooking it down into stock. And ham bone is no exception. Ham bone and bean soup is incredibly easy to make. You just need a solid afternoon (5-6 hours) to boil the bone.
Ham Bone and Bean Soup
1 ham bone
2-3 cups of ham, cubed
3-4 cups of white or pinto beans (or a combination)
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
4-5 carrots, chopped
4-5 celery ribs, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large stock pot, cover the ham bone with water and simmer for at least 2-3 hours. I used dry beans, so I added some prep time (boil, then soak over night, rinse, boil again for 30 minutes). Add the beans, ham, onions, garlic, carrots and celery to the stock. Let simmer for at least an hour. Salt and pepper to taste.
Yes, it really is that easy. And so good. Benny now requests this soup regularly. If I could find more ham bones, I'd certainly make it more often.