Shortly before Christmas I received Paula Deen’s new family cookbook. I love Paula Dean. And so do my kids. They love to yell for me when she comes on TV. If you haven’t gotten her new book, check it out. It’s becoming one of my favorites. Here it is:
So the other day I was sitting on the couch looking through the book and enjoying the photos and stories about her family. I came across her recipe – technically it’s her husbands recipe – for Navy Bean and Ham Hock Soup and I am surprised to see my recipe is almost identical to the one she had in the book. With a few differences.
For one, I don’t use ham hock’s. Honestly, those things frighten me when I see them all wrapped up in the grocery store. I have never touched a ham hock or cooked with one. I usually either use a ham bone or some diced ham that I have left over. She also uses Worcestershire sauce in her recipe. I don’t. She uses celery in her recipe, and I use celery salt. She cooks hers in the slow cooker and I cook mine on the stove. But, the oddest, most scary difference between our recipes was this. She. Does. Not. Use. Butter! What? The “Queen of Butter” does not use some amount, no matter how small, of butter in her recipe? I am shocked!
Okay, so maybe our recipes are not exactly alike, but they are very similar. Since it’s been colder than a witches… well you know what around here lately, I decided to make a big pot of this. I had everything I needed to make it so I set to work on it.
I chose to stick with my recipe, but I did use a little bit of Paula’s. Instead of just using the celery salt, I also chopped up some celery. And instead of cooking it on the stove, I used her version and did it in the slow cooker. The outcome was great. I will be cooking this in the slow cooker from now on. The slow cooker helped to keep more liquid in the soup, versus the stove version which tends to evaporate it off more quickly.
So if you have Paula’s book, you can always try her version. But, I’ll give you my recipe and you can see what you think. Honestly, they probably taste very similar, but still, get her book. It’s worth the investment!
NAVY BEAN AND HAM SOUP:
- 1 lb. Bag of Navy Beans
- 1 Thick Slice, or 2 Thin Slices of Ham, finely diced
- 1 Carrot peeled and finely diced
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion, finely diced
- 1 Rib of Celery, finely diced
- 8 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1/2 tsp. Celery Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder or 1 Clove Fresh Garlic
- 1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (*See Note)
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
The night before you plan to make the soup, sort through the bag of beans and remove any stones or other foreign matter. Rinse beans, then place in large bowl and cover with water. Place them in the refrigerator and soak them overnight.
The next day drain the beans and set them to the side. Dice up the onions, ham, celery and carrots. In a sauté pan set on medium heat, put in the butter and allow to melt. Throw in the onions, celery, carrots and ham and cook for a few minutes, just to give them some color and flavor.
In the slow cooker, add in your chicken broth, ham, carrots, onions, celery, and beans. Add all the dry ingredients and give it a good stir. Cover and set on low. Cook for 5 to 6 hours and turn off the heat.
If you think you need more salt, or spices go ahead and add it now. I use the salts sparingly because the ham itself is salty, plus whatever amount of salt is already in the chicken broth.
*Note: Use the unsalted butter when you are sautéing the vegetables before adding them to the soup. There is already enough salt in the broth, ham, and the salts you added in.