As I'm writing this, it's currently thunderstorming outside after a balmy 70-degree day. Never mind that it's December 23rd and this is Ohio...
It's safe to say that a white Christmas is NOT in the forecast, but we'll make the most of the next couple of days. Christmas Eve will be filled with our many traditions, including baking pizzelles as a family and watching A Christmas Story on repeat during our sibling gift exchange. Because we're going to my Dad's house on Christmas Day, I'll also be making our Christmas dinner -- pork roast with green beans and gnocchi, mashed potatoes, and sour cream cucumber salad.
I know a lot of you will be making ham, though, so I wanted to share my favorite recipe for using up leftover ham! I actually made both a turkey breast and a ham for Thanksgiving this year, and I saved the leftover ham and ham bone in the freezer just for the purpose of making this ham and bean soup recipe. Leftover ham and the ham bone will keep in the freezer for up to two months, so this is a great way to use them up even if you're not in the mood for soup right away.
Start by placing the ham bone in a large pot, along with the 8 cups of water. I like to use my heavy duty enameled cast iron Dutch oven for this purpose. They can be pretty pricey, but this one from Tramontina on Walmart.com is a really affordable version -- and they last forever!
Simmer the ham bone for about 45 minutes, until it's very fragrant. Then remove and discard the bone.
In the meantime, you can start dicing up the onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. I prefer to sauté the onions, carrots, celery and garlic before putting them into the soup, so I also do that in a large skillet while the ham stock is simmering.
Finally, add all of the remaining ingredients into the pot, including the leftover diced ham. Let it simmer for about 10 more minutes, and it's ready to eat!
This rustic ham and bean soup is so delicious on a cold winter day -- or a warm one for that matter! I'm really wishing I had made more, because after my boys went back for seconds, there wasn't much left. As with so many soups, I think it's even better after sitting for a day.
Do you have a favorite recipe for using up leftover ham?