Living in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains almost every home has their own recipe for soup beans. Soup beans are basically just cooked beans eaten in its broth.
After trying many different varieties of soup beans I have finally discovered my favorite. What is very interesting about this recipe though is it did not come from anyone living in the mountains around me, but from a member of my family living in Michigan.
The great thing about any soup beans recipe is it is very flexible. If you have 2 pounds of leftover ham you want to use up then adjust the recipe for the amount of ham you have. Or omit the chilies if you donít like any spicy flavors.
Beans also freeze well so you can double your batch and freeze some for a later meal. Since beans are relatively cheap this is a great way to save on money and save time having a ready made meal in the freezer. Just thaw, reheat, and serve.
1 lb dry pinto beans
1 lb cooked ham with bone
1 small can green chilies
1/2 tablespoon liquid smoke
Salt and Pepper
The night before you want to make your soup beans you need to prepare your beans. Go through your beans and remove any rocks or debris. Place dry beans in small stock pot and cover with boiling water; cover, and let beans soak overnight. The beans with expand while soaking so be sure to have at least 3 inches of water above the beans in the pot.
The next day drain water from beans, keeping the beans in the stock pot. Cover beans again with some more water. You want enough water to just cover the beans leaving only about a half inch of water above the beans. You can always add water later if your soup beans get too thick.
Bring beans to a boil and then cover your beans reduce heat to simmer. While beans are simmering chop your ham into small chunks. Do not throw out the bones; you will be putting the bones in your soup as well.
1 pound of ham is really just an estimate, you can add as much or as little ham as you like. Using your leftover ham from the holidays is a great way to use up leftovers. I have also made this recipe with cured Canadian ham.
Once you have your ham chopped up, add ham and bones to your soup. Drain a small can of green chilies and add as little or as many chilies as you like. The first time I made this I added a whole can and it was a bit too spicy for me. I would recommend only half a tablespoon of chilies to start and add more later if you want more spiciness.
Add liquid smoke and stir to combine flavors. Cover and continue to simmer. Do not add any salt or pepper at this time. Ham is salty and will add flavor to your soup beans as they cook. If you add salt now your beans could end up over salty when they are done cooking.
Simmer for 4 or more hours. There is not exact time for cooking soup beans. You will need to check your beans every 30 minutes, after the first 4 hours, for doneness. Add more water as needed as beans are cooking. When your soup beans are done the beans should be very soft and cooked through.
At this point taste your beans and determine if any salt and pepper is needed for flavor. Remove ham bones from soup and serve with hot cornbread. Enjoy!!