This was, by a large margin, my favorite food tradition as a kid. The day after Christmas my mom would retrieve the neatly wrapped bone from the ham we ravaged the night before from the fridge where she'd kept it for just this purpose. A few minutes and a handful of ingredients later, the gorgeous smell was filling our kitchen from the pot on the stove. It simmered away while we took turns checking on it, begging the beans to soften faster. Once it was ready, even if it was hours until dinner, we'd all dive in. Warm and satisfying, it made the lazy day-after-Christmas into something to look forward to. We'd even try to talk her into making a ham a few weeks later, just so that we could also talk her into making the soup the next day. It almost always worked.
Things You'll Need
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped white onion
2 large carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
teaspoon Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, thyme)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pounds Great Northern beans
1 teaspoon baking soda (this helps soften the beans)
1 ham hock (bone from the center of the ham)
2 cups chopped cooked ham
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Cook the Vegetables
Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, carrots and celery, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
Step 2: Simmer
Add the remaining ingredients, simmer until the beans have softened, 2 to 3 hours. Alternately, you can transfer the vegetables to a slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 10 hours.
Step 3: Remove the Ham Bone and Serve
Remove the ham bone, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm.