I know this is more for a fall or winter meal, but it is so good that I want to go ahead and post it. A year and a half ago I had leftover ham from Christmas and wanted to use it up. What to make? So I made up this soup that was so very delicious. I told Bob I wasn't sure if he'd like it, but on the very first bite he involuntarily said, "Mmmm..." and loved it. It was really good. I think I wrote it down somewhere, but I think I can remember how I made it. The addition of the cumin and chili powder give it a bit of a 'chili' taste, but this is more subtle. One chilly night try this as you will love it. I served this with homemade cornbread with lots of real butter.
Ham and Pinto Bean Soup
1/4 to 1/2 pound smoky, thick cut bacon*
1 medium onion or shallots, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 boxes (32 oz.) organic chicken stock or broth*
4 cans (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pepper, to taste
Leftover ham cut into bite-sized pieces (I used at least 2 pounds ham)
Cut bacon into bite-sized pieces and fry up in a Dutch oven. When bacon is almost done, add onions and green peppers and saute till bacon is done and onions are becoming clear. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Add the boxes of chicken broth and the 4 cans of pintos; bring to a boil. Add the spices, turn down heat, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the ham and allow to simmer for a half hour to combine flavors. Serve with chopped scallions and corn bread. You can also add grated Co-Jack cheese, if desired.
*Try to make sure your bacon is not too fatty as you will be using the grease for frying vegetables and as part of the flavor of the soup. I used a sassafrass smoked bacon that was thick-cut.
*You can use your own homemade stock or broth.
*You can make your own 1 pound package of beans from scratch, just start the night before as you will need to soak the beans before cooking them.