Saturday, January 22, 2011

Navy Bean Soup

     Navy bean soup is one of the most popular soups of all time.  There are many different recipes for navy bean soup.  This was the first navy bean soup recipe that I learned.  I watched an older chef, who was close to retirement age, make this recipe at a yacht club.  He said that he had been cooking this recipe since the 1930's.  His navy bean soup had old traditional flavors.
     This is a dark colored navy bean soup that is richer than what diner style restaurants usually serve.  I suppose that a basic thin consistency diner style restaurant navy bean soup may appeal to some people, but a thin light colored navy bean soup looks too much like canned navy bean soup.
     In my opinion, a basic thin light navy bean soup is not quite how this soup should be.  The old yacht club chef's recipe is the best navy bean soup recipe that I have ever tasted.  I have served this old soup recipe at several restaurants and it always sells out!
     Cooking the dried navy beans till they become the correct texture does take patience.  Hours of slow simmering will cause the bean's starches to thicken the soup.  When the soup is finished cooking, the beans will have a soft texture.
     Navy Bean Soup Recipe:
     This recipe makes enough soup for about 4 servings!
     Soak 4 cups of dried navy beans in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain the water off of the beans.
     Rinse the navy beans under cold running water.
     Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced salt pork.
     Cook the salt pork, till it becomes lightly browned and the grease is rendered.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1/3 cup of small diced celery.
     Add 1/3 cup of small diced carrot.
     Add 1/2 cup of small diced onion.
     Saute the vegetables, till they become tender.
     Add 1/2 cup of small diced ham.
     Add the soaked navy beans.
     Add 3 cups of pork broth.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with an extra 3" of liquid.
     Add 1/2 cup of peeled seeded and coarsely chopped tomato.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.  (Do not add too much salt, because the salt pork and ham contain salt!)
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 2 pinches of paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar.  (Optional.  Some people think that vinegar helps to prevent flatulence, but that has been proven to be incorrect.  Beans are the magical fruit!)
     Bring the soup to a boil over medium high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer the beans, till they become tender.
     Note:  It will be necessary to add water occasionally as the beans simmer.
     Once the beans become soft, mash 1/3 to 1/2 of the beans in the pot with a potato masher.
     Simmer and reduce the soup, till the mashed beans thicken the broth to a medium thin soup consistency.  Simmer till the remaining whole navy beans become very tender.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Ladle the navy bean soup into a bowl.
     No garnish is necessary!
     A good navy bean soup has such a welcome, comfortable, hearty flavor.  Many people like to see whole beans in a bean soup.  Only enough ham and salt pork is added to flavor the soup.  Do not try to rush this soup by cooking it at too high of a temperature.  It is very easy to scorch a bean soup.  Just a small amount of each of the herbs is all it takes to make this navy bean soup taste great.  Yum!  ...  Shawna  

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