One of my favorite soups that my mom would make when I was growing up was ham and bean soup. So yummy, all that smoky, thick, creamy, brothy deliciousness. However, beans and I do not get along any more. But that doesn’t mean I have to miss out on this soup. Well, at least not entirely. This doesn’t quite get the texture right, but it definitely comes close.
This soup takes a while to make, so you might want to begin it a day ahead of time, the night before, or else early in the day.
1 ham hock
1 pint chicken stock
Lard or other healthy fat
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 sweet potato, diced (the smaller the dice, the more quickly this will cook)
2-3 parsnips, diced (same thing as with the sweet potato)
real salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh sage, sliced into thin ribbons
Fresh, cultured sour cream, optional
Raw egg yolks, optional
Hot sauce, optional
1. Gently simmer the ham hock in water (enough to cover) and a teaspoon of vinegar until the meat is falling off the bones. (I often do this in a crockpot on low overnight.)
2. Remove meat from broth, allow to cool, and dice.
3. Return bones to broth and simmer for a few hours longer (or set aside to add to more broth later–there will be lots of goodness left in these bones to cook out).
4. If not making soup immediately, store broth and chopped meat separately in glass jars.
5. When ready to make soup (and this part comes together surprisingly quickly!), heat lard or other healthy fat over med-low heat and add fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned and caramelized.
6. Add sweet potato, parsnips, reserved ham hock broth, and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook until vegetables are soft.
7. Using a potato masher, squish some of the softened vegetables until soup is thick enough.
8. Add salt, pepper, sage, and chopped ham. Stir and heat until warm.
9. Serve and once soup is cool enough to put your finger in it without stinging, add raw egg yolks and raw sour cream to taste. Add hot sauce if desired.
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