Monday, January 10, 2011

Elsie's Soup

OK. I still call her Mrs. E______. But, my mom calls it Elsie's soup, so I will too. At least for recipe/blogging purposes:)

This is hearty soup and really warms you on a chilly day! It does have extended simmering time, so it needs to be made on a day that you're home; however, there isn't very much work involved.

Wash and dry 2 1/2 c dried beans, any varieties. I used a one pound bag of bean soup mixture and threw away the enclosed seasoning packet (it was probably mostly salt anyway) which seems to be a bit more than the amount called for. It works OK though and then I don't have bits of beans leftover for next time. Put them in a stock pot and add 3 quarts water.

To that mixture add:
one ham hock
bouquet garni of the dried spices listed below:
1/2 t. thyme, 1/2 t sage, 1 t parsley, one bay leaf
I put these all in a tea infuser and submerged the infuser into the water.
Simmer for 2 1/2- 3 hours.

large can tomatoes, undrained
2 c chopped onion
2 c chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours

1 lb smoked sausage (I sliced and quartered each slice)
2 chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces
Simmer 40 minutes

Serve over rice. The original recipe says to serve over rice with parsley. I didn't do that.

The only tricky part is not letting the beans get too mushy and overcooked. During those long simmer times I do check periodically (shovel snow, check beans, short walk with dog, check beans, fold laundry, check get the idea!!!). I didn't have any sage, so I omitted it and was fine. I discovered that AFTER I went to the store for a ham hock and celery and wasn't going to go back for an ingredient that is only 1/2 t!

It really is better when served the day after making it and does work well to simmer it all day on a weekend and then eat it during the week. It freezes well, so that works for our small family. I am able to start rice in the rice cooker before swim practice, so we come home and warm the soup and are ready to serve. I suspect that this would adapt well to a crockpot; however, I haven't tried that, so you'll have to let me know how it works if you do.

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