fabulous bean soupThis hearty soup is full of protein and perfect for those cold, blustery days. It simmers all afternoon making your house smell wonderful. Pair it with a salad and you’ve got a perfect stick-to-your-ribs meal.

This is my mom’s go-to bean soup. It is often what’s on the stove when I make the long drive to their home in Pennsylvania – a good choice when you’re not sure when folks are arriving for dinner! It has enough substance to satisfy the guys in my family who don’t consider soup a meal.

  • 1 bag of soup-mix dry beans, soaked – see note below (or you can use 2 ½ cups of your favorite varieties)
  • 18 ounces V-8 or vegetable juice
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon beef soup mix (you can substitute 4 or so bullion cubes)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  •  16 ounces of tomato, pureed (I‘ve substituted with a can of petite diced tomatoes)
  •  8 ounces of lean ham

Tie the following herbs into a square of cheesecloth:

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 chicken breast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces of cheddar cheese, shredded

Add all of the ingredients through the ham in a soup pot. Add the herb bundle. The soup simmers for five hours, but mid-way through, add in the raw chicken breast. It’ll cook in the wonderful broth. Before serving, remove the herb bag and the chicken breast. With a fork and knife, shred the chicken and return it to the pot along with the cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted.

Serve with a salad and crusty French bread.

A couple of extra thoughts:

  • Soak the beans in a pot of water overnight. If it’s too late for the overnight method, use the quick-soak approach. Boil the beans in water for 3 minutes in a heavy pot, cover and set aside for two hours. Drain the beans and proceed with the recipe.
  • You can use leftover chicken, dice it and add it to the soup towards the end of the cooking process.
  • If you don’t have leftover ham, purchase a thick slice of high quality deli ham and dice. I used Hannaford’s Taste of Inspirations Black Forest Ham for my latest pot of soup.
  • If you worry about serving the men in your house beans, mom swears that adding a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the soup towards the end helps to counter potentially gaseous bean effect.
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