I told you I'd get around to it, didn't I?
So, here's what happened. Vicky did such a wonderful job making dinner on Thanksgiving that I told her I wanted her to take it easy at Christmas. To that end, we ordered a HoneyBaked Ham. As it turned out, she still cooked up a storm because Vicky is just like her mother, with the martyr gene deep down. Oh well.
When we'd finished the ham, there was actually plenty of ham remaining. They stop their spiral cut at a certain point and you're left with a bone and a big hunka meat.
What to do?
"Freeze it," I said to Vicky. "I'll make soup."
Really? I thought. You'll make soup?
Sure. Of course.
You've never made soup.
Me and my big mouth.
Janurary came in with a heat wave... a tropical heatwave... and soup was out of the question. But last weekend was perfect. Cold and drizzly. Dark and stormy. The perfect weather for soup.
Here's what I wanted. I wanted a soup with ham and beans or maybe pasta with lots of veggies and... couldn't find it. Seriously. I scoured the Internet for a recipe I thought sounded tasty. None of them did.
Fuck it. I'll make my own.
So, what you see below you is an original... of sorts. Basically, I took parts from a bunch of recipes I thought sounded good and put them together to make one recipe that sounded good. Enjoy!
Ken's Pork, Bean & Kale Soup
Yield: 6 servings (Ken Servings)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound pork tenderloin cut into 1-inch pieces or the hambone you saved to make soup
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons paprika, preferably smoked
A shitload of crushed red peppers, or to taste (optional)
1 cup white wine
16 oz tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped (about 8 cups lightly packed)
1 lb beans, rinsed
Make your shopping easy. Buy a bunch of kale, a can of diced tomatoes (these are usually 15 oz, which is just fine), and a bag of beans. (I used Great Northern Beans but you could also use red or black to suit your mood.) If you have the frozen end of a ham, with about a pound of meat left on it, use that. If not, go for the tenderloin or use chops. I like to soak my beans overnight, too, though some cooks skip this step.
Boiling your hambone. If you're going the hambone route, thaw it overnight, then take half of your chicken broth with a cup of water and bring to a boil in your soup pot. Then, (carefully) toss your ham bone in, cover the pot and let it simmer for hours and hours, until the meat is falling off. If you need to, add more water. The ham doesn't need to be submerged, you can let the steam do some work, but you'll want to keep enough liquid in there to do its job. After, let the ham bone cool. Don't toss what you've got in that pan as it's full of chickeny, hammy goodness. You can use that in your soup! Once the ham bone is cool enough to work with, peel off the meat and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
If you're going with the loin or chip: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork with your olive oil, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring once or twice, until no longer pink on the outside, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs, leaving juices in the pan.
Use this dripping pan (or if you're using your ham bone, just start up a new one with some olive oil). Add onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, paprika and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and tomatoes, increase heat to high and stir to scrape up any browned bits.
If you've got your soup pot started, with your ham bone, add this to your soup pot. If working out of one pot, which you'll probably do if going with the loin or chop, just add your broth and bring to a boil. Toss in your ham/pork along with your beans.
At this point, you should have thrown in just about everything but the kale. Now, I hope you gave yourself plenty of time because soups, stews, and sauces always taste better with time. I cooked this on a Saturday afternoon so I wasn't rushed. Just put it on a low heat and let it simmer for a few hours. I gave it five.
Once it looks like meal time is coming, add your kale and stir just until it wilts. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is just tender, about 15 minutes.
Serve with a nice crusty bread or crackers. Enjoy!