Sunday, November 20, 2011

Simple White Bean Soup and Cornbread

Hot soup and a cold day.

I've used this recipe for more than 10 years, and it never disappoints. It is so very simple too. It doesn't matter if you use canned Navy Beans, or dry ones, this is an easy and hearty meal that is perfect for winter.

Now, I use dry beans. The biggest reason is to control the sodium content, but I have found that Kroger's Private Selection of organic canned beans have a super low sodium content. I have used those in a pinch, but I prefer to use dry beans -- if I can remember to soak them overnight!!

There isn't a huge difference in the nutritional value between canned and dry beans, but there are indeed some differences which leads to dry beans being the better nutritional choice if that is something you look at, as I try to do.

The biggest difference nutritionally is the sodium content. Well, as well as heavy metals absorbing into your food from the cans. Dry beans have, well, zero sodium. For us, that is a huge deal since hubby has high blood pressure. Most things that come in cans contain astronomically high sodium content, yet as I listed above, Kroger does make canned beans that actually have a low sodium content if you'd rather use that in a pinch.

Personally, I also think there is a huge taste difference, again with the dry beans winning out. Dried beans are also so much cheaper. And, quite honestly, they're more nutrient dense than canned.

Just take a small amount of time to soak the dry beans while you are sleeping, and you will have the better option.

And, you know, if you aren't at work all day and think in the morning, "Bean soup for tonight sounds good but I didn't soak them!" Never fear. You can do as I am doing today, and 1:30pm when I decided that I was going to make bean soup for tonight.

You can do what is called a "Quick Soak". Take the dried beans and cover them with cold water, Heat to boiling, and let boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover pot, and let stand for an hour.

Then, you are ready to cook with them, which will take about 2 hours or so to simmer on the stove. Even getting started at 1:30, I will have delicious bean soup made from dried beans (that I forgot to soak) by dinner time!

If you DO go to work all day, the beauty is you can soak the beans overnight in the crock pot and in the morning just thrown in a ham hock, turn on high and leave while dinner cooks itself as you busy yourself away for the day! All you'll have to do is whip up some cornbread, and you have dinner!


  • 1-lb dry navy or great northern beans
  • ham hock


  1. Rinse beans carefully to remove any dirt or rocks that may be present.
  2. Cover in a crock pot with 6-8 cups of cold water. Let soak overnight, or at least 6-8 hours.
  3. Add ham hock to crock pot and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

Skillet Cornbread:

  • Finely ground pure cornmeal, yellow or white (about 2 cups)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tspns baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of oil

While making batter, add a well greased, cast iron skillet to the oven to heat it up.

  1. Beat egg, then add bakingsoda, baking powder and mix.
  2. Add buttermilk, oil and salt.
  3. Add cornmeal slowly to make a medium thick batter.
  4. Remove cast iron skillet from oven, and add batter to cast iron skillet and bake at 450 for about 15-20 minutes. Watch closely.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Amish Ham, Green Beans, and New Potatoes

A couple of weeks ago, while I was at work, I picked up an old Amish cookbook. I like looking at various cookbooks so I can try and find recipes that maybe we haven't used before. While I did find several that I think we would like to try, the simplicity and combination of flavors of this one struck a chord with me.

I've had this combination before, of course. I believe many have. However, I don't believe I have ever cooked them all together as one dish. Apparently, this was a staple (and still is) in Amish country. Normally, this is cooked in a Dutch oven. And I do have a cast iron Dutch oven that I use on occasion for other dishes.

However, I am choosing to use my crock pot for this dish.

For anyone interested in browsing through Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking, you can go to this link. Here is an excerpt from the intro.

"The Pennsylvania Dutch are a hard working people and as they say, “Them that works hard, eats hearty.” The blending of recipes from their many home lands and the ingredients available in their new land produced tasty dishes that have been handed down from mother to daughter for generations. Their cooking was truly a folk art requiring much intuitive knowledge, for recipes contained measurements such as “flour to stiffen,” “butter the size of a walnut,” and “large as an apple.” Many of the recipes have been made more exact and standardized providing us with a regional cookery we can all enjoy."

This is not where I got the recipe; however I can not imagine what recipe I found to vary too much since it is pretty simple with the same ingredients.


  • 3 lb bone-in ham, uncooked
  • 1 lb whole green beans, trimmed
  • 5-6 new potatoes, cut into quarters (or whole, as I used them)
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large crock pot, cover the ham with water. Cook on high for about 4 hours. Add extra water if needed.

2. Add green beans to the pot. Remove the ham and add the potatoes. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Add the meat back to the pot and cook another hour on high.

3. Turn heat down to low to simmer until ready to serve.

**note** for those who may choose to utilize this recipe in the crock pot while you are away for the day and are crunched for time when you get home, adding the potatoes with the ham from the beginning will certainly yield well done potatoes with no wait. Adding canned green beans about 15-20 minutes before serving rather than raw, uncooked ones will also make the wait time less for when you arrive home with hungry mouths waiting to be fed.