‘TIS THE SEASON OF THE SOUP
Granmere’s French Navy Bean Soup
It makes perfect sense that the cold and flu season is soup season… Last week in our cold-ridden house lentil was the soup du jour… This week’s soup is navy bean…
OK, fine – I love navy bean soup, but my inquiring mind wanted to know. “Navy” bean? Why are those delicious, little white beans called ‘navy’ beans?
Well, I let my little fingers do the walking over to google for the answer. First up: they’re called navy beans because they were served on board naval ships.
OK, fine – but that’s just a tad too simple. There had to be a better reason than that. So, my fingers did another walk over to google. Second up: during the seafaring age in Europe, these little white beans could be grown on board ships and stored in casks for a long time without rotting or going rancid, so the European navies used these beans as a staple to feed its men on board.
OK, fine – that makes sense. Fiber and protein for sailors… and it makes a helluva soup.
Here’s the soup Richard made for us this week. Healthful, hearty, filling, inexpensive and oh soooooooooo good. It’s called Grandmere’s French Navy Bean Soup. The recipe doesn’t say whose grandmere, but you know the French, there’s always a grandmere somewhere making soup.
“GRANMERE’S FRENCH NAVY BEAN SOUP”
Courtesy of Cassoulets U*S*A
1 lb French navy beans
2 quarts of water
1 ham hock or left-over ham bone
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
2 stalks celery (with leaves), finely chopped
1 carrot, shredded
Sea salt to taste
Prepare Beans according to the package.
Richard used Cassoulets U*S*A beans: Rinse and pick over. Pour boiling water over beans to cover by 2 inches. Cover and leave for one hour. Rinse and drain.
In a large cooking pot, add the beans to 2 quarts of water, along with the ham hock, onions, bay leave, cloves, celery, and carrot.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours or until beans are very tender and the soup begins to thicken.
Discard bay leaf and remove ham hock.
When cool, remove meat and cut into chunks.
Partially mash beans and vegetables to thicken soup.
Return cut up ham to soup. Season with salt and pepper (Richard added spinach in these last minutes) and reheat to serve piping hot.
Garnish with parsley.