hamhock bean soup

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summary: recipe for White Bean Soup with a Hamhock; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

The other day I mentioned that we had the most brilliant white bean soup with warm slices of Swedish Rye Bread and promised to post about what T did to make it. Here it is, in record time:

stock Every time we go into our favourite butcher shop to buy ham (smoked to perfection by the butcher) or beautiful sausages, we invariably see a plate of hamhocks on top of the counter.

From time to time, I say out loud that my all-time favourite soup when I was growing up was Campbell’s French Canadian Split Pea soup. I point to the hamhocks and say we really should get one of these bones and make the soup ourselves. And T agrees, wistfully saying “Yes, blue soup. I love blue soup!”

And then we promise ourselves that we’ll try making our own hamhock soup… but not this time… next time. Okay?

Yes. Next time. Let’s do that.

Then last week as we were picking up ham for faux Reuben sandwiches, “next time” finally arrived. We bought the smallest hamhock on the plate and had the butcher cut it in half so it would fit into our stock pot.

We jumped back on our bikes and rode home, excited to get started – but knowing we would have to wait (wait?!! Waaahhh!!!) until the next day because we had to presoak the beans.

We discussed whether we should use yellow split peas or white beans in the soup. We hemmed and hawed, wavering back and forth and finally settled on white beans, sorting and washing them that evening and setting them in plenty of water to soak overnight.

soup And then the next day, T proceeded to make the most brilliant soup. Inexpensive too!! Here’s what he did:

Hamhock Bean Soup
measurements? You want measurements??


  • navy beans
  • water
  • chicken stock


  • hamhock
  • water
  • peppercorns
  • bay leaves
  • cloves
  • onion
  • carrot


  • everything from above
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. beans: The day before making the soup, sort (to remove stones) and wash the beans well. Put the washed beans in a big pot and cover with plenty of fresh cold water. Cover the pot and leave it in a cool spot overnight.
  2. The next morning, remove any floaters, drain the beans, rinse and cover again with plenty of fresh cold water before placing on the stove. DO NOT ADD SALT!! Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook til it begins to foam (almost immediately). Drain and rinse. Cover with fresh cold water again.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer, partially cover and cook until the beans are soft. Once again: DO NOT ADD SALT. Cooking will be anywhere from one to two hours depending on the beans. After an hour of cooking, check to see if beans are the consistancy (in terms of softness) you like. If not, simmer a little longer.
  4. Remove from the heat. Add a little chicken stock. Ideally, the liquid will be just covering the beans. Set aside.
  5. hamhock: While the beans are simmering, put the hamhock into another large pot with onion, carrot, herbs and spices. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a slow simmer and simmer gently for a couple of hours. Skim away and discard any foam. Remove the onion and carrot when they are soft. (Overcooking the vegetables may make the soup bitter tasting.)
  6. Because the skin on the hamhock basically seals everything in, the meat will probably not be softened yet. Peel away the skin and continue to simmer until the meat is soft and falling off the bone.
  7. ham Remove the hamhock from the stock to a plate. Pull the meat away from the bone, leaving some of it in biggish pieces.
  8. Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve. Discard the lumps.
  9. soup: Add stock to the beans until soup consistency is reached. Taste for seasoning and adjust. You probably won’t have to add any salt….

Serve the soup hot with freshly made biscuits or warm bread and a salad on the side.


1.) Herbs and Spices: The herbs and spices are what we used this time. Next time we may add some fennel seed. And/or perhaps some coriander seed. The only constant will be the bay leaves and peppercorns.

2.) Beans: According to Sally and Martin Stone in “The Brilliant Bean”, most dried beans double in volume and weight after being soaked and cooked. Soybeans and chickpeas can triple.

Beans that still float after soaking overnight are damaged slightly and may contain the enzyme that will cause gut pain. The same goes for the soaking water. The amount of nutrients lost by discarding the water is negligible (or at least that’s what I think).

“As a general rule, 1 cup (8oz) of dried beans increases to 2 to 2½ c (1 to 1¼ lb) of cooked beans. One cup of dried beans is usually enough to serve four as a side dish.”

… (1 lb = 453.6 gm)

** Tinned beans can be used as well. Drain and rinse the beans first and replace any liquid with fresh water. The liquid in canned beans is often a bit stinky, murky, and oversalted.

Swedish Bread (BBB) Warm slices of Swedish rye bread slathered with butter really are the perfect things to have with this soup.

Forget wasting time with tins of Campbells soup! This is the best!

We didn’t use up all the ham-hock stock so tonight, we had black-eyed pea and kale soup with the rest of the stock. And, whoohooooo!! there is still half a loaf of Swedish rye bread that I hid in the freezer, for just this kind of occasion.



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1 response to “hamhock bean soup

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    That one of my favorite things about split peas – no soaking just rinse and turn the heat on! At the same time, navy bean was always my mom’s favorite soup so I don’t usually think it’s too much trouble to soak them overnight for soup the next day. Mom always told her story about bean soup “Winter days coming home after school her mother had a big hot pot of bean soup waiting to warm them up. But ham hock, oh how I love what they do for soups!


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