Old Fashion Bean Soup

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I smoked a pork shoulder in applewood last week. Three dinners and one sandwich later, I had the bone and some nice meat with plenty of bark left. As Fall sets in and temps continue to fall, this cried out for bean soup. This recipe is adapted from Old School Ham Bone Beans at Deep South Dish. Typically, a hambone or ham hocks would be the base for bean soup, but the smokiness of the pork was perfect. You probably do not need the bacon and bacon fat in the recipe, but, come on, it’s bacon. You can alway justify bacon!

It takes a little longer, but I make the meat stock first and then use it to cook the beans. Using rich meat stock when cooking the bean enriches the flavors. This recipe is all about layering flavor upon flavor for a rich, hearty soup.

Leeks are not traditional, but I love the flavor. Mushrooms are not traditional either, but complement the earthiness of the smoked meat and beans. They are optional. You can use commercial Cajun Spice. I make my own blend without salt. I prefer to monitor the salt used in any dish.

Serve with a hearty, crusty whole wheat bread for a healthy, hearty Autumn meal.

Stock:

Ingredients:
1 large ham or pork shoulder bone with meat
3 celery stalks with leaves, cut into thirds
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large Vidalia onion, quartered
2 Leeks, rinsed and quartered
2 bay leaves
8-10 whole peppercorns
6 cups of water or enough to cover

Directions:
1) Place bone and stock ingredients in a large stock pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.
2) Strain stock and cool.
3) Reserve meat from the bone.

Bean Soup:

Ingredients:
5 slices of thick cut bacon (I use low sodium)
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
2 Leeks, rinsed and finely chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound package of dried mixed soup bean (I use Goya 16 Bean Soup mix), rinsed
Reserved ham or smoked pork, chopped
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
Reserved bacon fat
1 cup of reserved meat stock
12 oz mixed gourmet mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbs Cajun Seasoning
Hot Sauce, to taste
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) In a large Dutch Oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Roughly chop bacon and reserve. Reserve 1/2 of bacon grease.
2) Add onions, leeks, celery and carrots to the Dutch Oven and cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.
3) Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
4) Add beans and meat stock (except 1 cup, reserved).
5) Raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
6) Add the reserved meat and bacon and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
7) In a small saucepan, reheat the reserved bacon fat. Stir in the flour and cook until lightly browned. Slowly stir in the reserved meat stock, bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until smooth.
8) Add gravy, mushrooms, Cajun Spices, hot sauce, salt and pepper to the Dutch Oven cook for an additional 30 minutes.

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