Not Your Mother’s Ham and Bean Soup but OH-SO Tasty

I learned recently that one of Craig’s favorite things from childhood was his mother’s ham and bean soup. Perfect for a winter evening. I decided this was the ideal dish to start with for my non-recipe cooking. I attended a class a few months ago at Kitchen Conservatory where we had no recipes, and while initially intimating, it is a great way to cook. Whatever you have, whatever you’re in the mood to eat. Food & Wine recently featured an article about intuitive cooking with Thomas Keller. And soup lends itself to spontaneity quite nicely.

So here goes. While this is not what Craig recalled his mom made, he loved it. Surprisingly layered flavors, slightly warm, and really good. As I was cooking, I attempted to jot down what I did, so be forewarned:  this is not a professionally written recipe and goes more to cooking from your gut. But do try it. Very tasty.

Spicy Bean Soup with Ham, Tomatoes, and Cilantro
Serves 4
1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrots, chopped
1 can diced green chiles
2 t. cumin
1 packet Goya ham-flavored concentrate
Freshly ground black pepper
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used about half a jar of tomatoes we canned this summer)
4 cups chicken stock, homemade, or low fat, low sodium
2 cans red beans, drained, rinsed
1 chipotle in adobe, finely diced
1 T. adobe sauce
2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup chopped cilantro – more to taste
Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
In a Dutch oven, heat oil, then add garlic, onion, celery, and carrots and cook until soft. Add green chiles, cumin, ham concentrate, and black pepper. Cook a few minutes until well-blended.

Add tomatoes, stock, red beans, chipotle, and adobe. Bring to a boil, and then simmer at least 30 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree until semi-smooth but some beans/vegetables remain (or blend about 2 cups beans in a blender). Return to pot, add ham, and heat until heated thoroughly. Stir in chopped cilantro.

Serve hot, garnished with thinly sliced green onions.

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