There is no better way to start my morning than watching the sun come up with my son. I am so glad he is a morning person like the rest of us! And this morning's sunrise surely did not disappoint; however, it was a tad bit misleading. While it is trying to make it look like it will be a beautiful day out...I assure you it is lying. It is cold! The thermometer may say 7 degrees out now, but it was in the negatives this morning. With these sub-zero temps I am going to go ahead and declare this soup weather!
With that being said...I have the perfect recipe for you all too. It's hearty, warm, and full of nutritional goodness. It's my ham and bean soup featuring navy beans in a bone broth.
I like to keep beans on hand since they are not only nutritious, but inexpensive, shelf-stable as you can buy them dried or in cans, and really versatile to cook with. Beans are a great source of alternative protein for vegetarians and vegans, or anyone that is looking to cut back on meat and poultry in their diet. In addition to all the vitamins and minerals in them, they have a good amount of fiber to keep you full. All of this and low in fat and cholesterol? Sign me up!
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming three cups of beans per week. Meeting this goal may help to promote a healthy heart, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and promote muscle building and weight loss. They can also help pregnant women meet their folic acid needs to aid in fetal brain and spinal development and prevent other birth defects.
Bone broth is a hot trend these days. It's one of those things our ancestors did for years when making soups and didn't think twice about it...that was just how it was done. Bone broth is simply the addition of bones (such as this ham bone I threw in my soup) when making a stock and simmering it low and slow to allow all the nutrients, and gelatin which is particularly beneficial, to seep into the water.
Bone broth is said to be beneficial for digestive health, detoxifying the liver, reducing inflammation, fighting infection, relieving joint and muscle pain, promoting bone health, and supplying a healthy dose of vital minerals to the diet. For this recipe I just simmer the soup with the bones in it. To learn how to make bone broth and get the most out of it visit this website: http://www.primallyinspired.com/how-to-make-bone-broth/
Now let's get on to the soup...
Hearty Ham and Bean Soup
1 large carrot
1 small onion
1 celery stalk
About an 8 oz. bone-in ham slice
1 can great northern beans
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
Dice the carrot, onion, and celery. I use the celery heart including the leaves, it adds great flavor! Dice the ham and set aside. Place the ham bone, veggies, and bay leaf in a pot and cover with water. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 30-45 minutes until the veggies are tender and the broth turns light brown in color. Rinse the beans and add to the soup with the diced ham. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: The soup will already have quite a bit of salt from the ham, so definitely taste it before adding any extra. Remove the ham bone and bay leaf before serving.
Primally Inspired. (2014). Bone broth: Health benefits. Retrieved from http://www.primallyinspired.com/bone-broth-health-benefits/
U.S. Dry Bean Council. (2014). Beans for a healthy heart. Retrieved from http://www.usdrybeans.com
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