Our circ manager commented today--"I like how you consider the staff here as family enough to cook for us sometimes."
I do. Our staff is a family--complete with a problem child or two(!). But we generally all get along well, work hard and take pride in our library.
Morale has sagged in recent years. We've had budget cuts and a hiring freeze. We've lost key personnel and been unable to rehire for the positions. But we soldier on--and we try to have fun when we can.
For some weird reason our Director and Deputy Director showed up at our holiday party with a Honey Bake Ham. Weird because for one thing, they never bring a food gift, and for another because considering that the library branches are full of Muslim and Jewish staff--well, HAM?
When the ham was in the staff fridge and mostly eaten I realized it was a bone-in ham. Not a huge bone, but enough for a soup. So I cut the rest of the meat off the bone and tossed it in the freezer.
The circ manager brought in her 6 quart slow cooker. Yesterday afternoon, I put the bone in the pot with water and other fixings and left it cooking overnight.
I meant to cook the beans for it separately at home. But I got home last night and the Man was running a fever, and by the time I realized that the beans were downstairs in my car it was 11PM and I was too tired to get them and start them. No matter, I just used canned beans instead. I also tossed in some ham chunks that had been in my home freezer from the last time we made a ham.
I served lots of home baked bread on the side--the cornbread I've posted about here, and some breads I've been making recently. More about that in another post. And I made the berry crumble cake from my last post for dessert.
The result was a very, very good lunch. Or so everyone said :D
This is the basic bean soup recipe the way I make it at home in a 3 1/2 qt slow cooker. We doubled it for the crowd at work.
Bean Soup With Ham
1 meaty ham bone
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
celery seed and black pepper to taste
1 lb white beans--navy or Great Northern OR 2-4 cans of white beans, drained
If you are using dry beans:
1)Rinse them thoroughly.Place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cook 5-10 minutes, then let rest at least 1 hour--if you have time, you can let them sit overnight.
2)Place the beans in your crockpot.
3)Add the ham bone.
4)Add 2 quarts of cold water, the onion and the bay leaf.
5)Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
6)Remove the bone. Cut off and chop any meat still on the bone and add it to the pot. Discard the bone.
7)Remove a cup or two of the beans and mash them by hand or in a food processor along with some of the soup stock. Return to the pot and stir.
8)Taste the soup and season with celery seed and black pepper as desired. Serve.
If you are using canned beans:
Begin the recipe with step 3.
After step 6 add 2 cans of drained, rinsed canned beans, mashing a third can as in step 7
I like to add some chicken stock/base to the soup at the beginning. I use about 3/4 tsp of base, or you could use a bouillon cube.
If you have other leftover ham, cube it and add it in step 6.
If you like a clearer soup, don't puree the beans. Soup will thicken after chilling, and is even better the next day!