Yes, I know it's been 90 degress in our 'hood, but the temp is dropping, prolonging soup season. Time for one last soup supper hurrah. My choice: Grandmere's French Navy Bean Soup! And, no this is not the same as the lentil soup I told y'all about some weeks ago.
I love bean soups, but each bean brings a new and different flavor to "bean" soup and soup made from navy beans is no exception. But my inquiring mind has always wanted to know. “Navy” bean? Why are those delicious, little white beans called "navy" beans?
Well, I let my little fingers do the walking over to google for the answer.
First up: they’re called navy beans because they were used on board naval ships.
OK, fine – but that’s just a tad too simple. There had to be a better reason than that. So, my fingers did another walk over to google.
Second up: during the seafaring age in Europe, these little white beans could be grown on board ships and stored in casks for a long time without rotting or going rancid, so the European navies used these beans as a staple to feed its men on board.
OK, fine – that makes sense. Fiber and protein for sailors… and it makes a helluva soup.
Never a sailor (well, he did go whale watching once on a sail boat if that counts), it didn't stop him from making this healthful, hearty, filling, inexpensive and oh soooooooooo good Grandmere’s French Navy Bean Soup. The recipe doesn’t say whose grandmere, but you know the French, there’s always a grandmere somewhere making soup.
“GRANMERE’S FRENCH NAVY BEAN SOUP”
Courtesy of Cassoulets U*S*A
1 lb French navy beans
2 quarts of water
1 ham hock or left-over ham bone
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
2 stalks celery (with leaves), finely chopped
1 carrot, shredded
Sea salt to taste
Prepare Beans according to the package. Richard used Cassoulets U*S*A beans: Rinse and pick over. Pour boiling water over beans to cover by 2 inches. Cover and leave for one hour. Rinse and drain.
In a large cooking pot, add the beans to 2 quarts of water, along with the ham hock, onions, bay leave, cloves, celery, and carrot.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours or until beans are very tender and the soup begins to thicken.
Discard bay leaf and remove ham hock.
When cool, remove meat and cut into chunks.
Partially mash beans and vegetables to thicken soup.
Return cut up ham to soup. My husband always adds a bit of spinach at the end. Season with salt and pepper and reheat to serve piping hot.
Garnish with parsley.