If you celebrated Easter, you may be trying to work through mountains of ham leftovers. This is the situation I find myself in and I wondered if Great-aunt Helen’s recipe boxes could help.I tried looking under H for ham – nope. M for meat also no. But S for soup did the trick and I found this recipe for Ham Hock Bean Soup.While this soup did little to help me work through sliced ham leftovers, it did make fine use of the ham hock I had stashed away in the freezer. Most of the ingredients were already on hand and the fresh parsley that was not was easy enough to pick up on one of many runs around town transporting my kids from here to there and back again.
There is nothing complicated about this soup, though its old-school use of dried beans means you have to plan at least a little bit ahead for soaking. (That said, this recipe cleverly makes use of the quick-soak method which cuts the soaking time from eight hours to one.)As I flipped through Helen’s box, I saw that maybe one-fourth of the recipes were clippings like this one, cut out from a newspaper or magazine. The remaining three-fourths were written in her hand or sometimes even my mom’s as she had been a source of some recipes. At some point, Helen must have decided it was easier to clip and stash than it was to precisely copy onto a 3×5″ lined card. Today we would more likely snap a photo with our phone and save to a folder on a cloud of choice.There is no right or wrong way to save a recipe, though the hand-written to me has the most charm. Little asides, comments, attributions, all in the handwriting of the owner, builds a connection that print and virtual copy just can’t touch. But a recipe is a recipe and the faded page from Sunset, along with Helen’s “Serves 6” comment at the end makes this as personal as anything in her collection.
Her soup was exactly what was needed as the snow continues to fall in Minnesota even though yes it is early April. Helen lived her life in this Northern Midwestern state as well and surely made comforting soups in spring. It’s a sturdy, practical, yet lovely soup just as Helen was that kind of woman.Served with one of the few remaining hot-cross buns, it made a hearty meal.Please return for an adult beverage we’ll pair with this steamy bowl of good. Thank you for being here today.