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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hamzilla: Winter's 15-Bean Soup with Ham

A few days before Christmas Eve, my mom asked if we could transfer the annual family gathering from her house to my house. Our house is closer to all of the cousins and since most of us had to work that morning, getting to and from my house would be much quicker for everyone. To entice me further, she said she'd provide most of the food, as she was planning a simple dinner of freshly baked ham made into sandwiches with several salads as sides.

No problem, Mom.

And then she dropped IT off. A 25-pound ham. No, that's not a typo. 25 POUNDS of ham... and not pre-cooked, either. I didn't even know you could buy a ham that size! As we shifted it around the fridge, we took to calling it Hamzilla.

On Christmas Eve, everyone enjoyed the sandwiches and raved about the rolls, which we bought from The Breadfarm. At the end of the evening, they departed in the same whirl they arrived in, leaving wrapping paper and bows strewn everywhere and approximately 20 pounds of Hamzilla still sitting on my kitchen counter. I do so love ham, but seriously? That's a whole lotta pork butt.

You remember how I felt guilty when I posted two soups in a row using kielbasa? Yeah. You should probably mentally prepare yourself for Ham-a-palooza. Starring Hamzilla.

Winter's 15-Bean Soup with Ham

1 20-oz bag of 15-bean mix (throw out that weird "ham flavoring packet" that comes with it... we'll be getting our ham flavor from actual ham, thankyouverymuch)
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, medium diced, about 2 cups
2 carrots, medium diced
1 stalk celery, medium diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
2 cups leftover ham, cubed
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 ham bone, cleaned as well as you can get it (that's where you got the cubed ham from up above, right?)
2 cups spicy V-8 juice
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch rainbow chard, stems removed, leaves chopped
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Tabasco Sauce to taste

Sort through beans, place into a soup pot and cover with water. Soak overnight.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. This soup starts on the stovetop, but then you'll transfer it to fnish cooking in a low oven. I picked up this tip on 15-bean soup from Cook's Illustrated. There are so many different shapes and sizes in a 15-bean mix and they all cook at different times. By cooking them in a the gentle heat of the oven, all of the beans remain intact. It's possible a crock pot set to low might give the same results... but my crock pot is nowhere near big enough for this soup. And I have to report, the oven method works like a charm!

Drain beans and rinse well. Set aside for the moment. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion and sautee until tender, about 8 minutes. Add cubed ham and sautee until it starts to brown, around 3 or 4 minutes. Add carrots and celery and sautee an additional 3 minutes, or until they start to soften. Add beans, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and sautee an additional minute or so, or until everything is fragrant.

Place the ham bone into the mixture and add the V-8 juice and the chicken broth. Stir well and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, then place in the oven - cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from oven and test a bean. They should be slightly tender, but not all the way done. Stir in the chopped chard leaves, re-cover pot and return to oven. Cook another 30 minutes or so, or until the beans are tender.

Remove ham bone and bay leaves from soup. If there was any meat on ham bone, shred it back into the soup. Stir in the lemon juice and several shakes of tabasco, adjust seasonings, and serve.


  1. Is that close-up kale picture for me?

  2. No, that's rainbow chard. But pretty, no? :)

  3. I found this recipe on Pinterest, made it tonight and it was delicious! Thought you should know. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for telling me! That just made my morning. :)

  4. Ohh! I cannot wait to try this! I dehydrated gobs of swiss chard over the summer so I can put it into soups and stews. Perfect for this!

    1. Wait. You can DEHYDRATAE greens? Like kale??? Seriously? Could you check back and let me know how it goes in the soup?

  5. Omg yes!!! My aunt made this last weekend when I was visiting family and I've been craving it since! I'm making this tonight and seriously can't wait!!!!!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Whoops! I commented with the wrong account. Here I am :)

    3. I'm so glad you liked it! I've been craving this one myself, lately. Might be time to buy a ham. :)