I just had an unpleasant flashback to my elementary school years in central Indiana. I was looking at a picture of navy bean soup at Pinterest and I suddenly remembered the look and smell of the ham and bean soup served in my school cafeteria. That soup was the only thing I really disliked on the menu. Actually, dislike is too mild; I detested the stuff. It was a rather thick, whitish gloppy mess with a few bits of ham that smelled as bad as it tasted. The odor was kind of sickening. And there was always a very plain piece of cornbread, too. Maybe I would eat that. Ugh!!
My father loved ham and bean soup but no one else did, so it was not on the home menu. So he snarfed it whenever he had a chance elsewhere. I sometimes heard about the experience and tried not to groan too much.
When I was about 12 years old my family went on vacation to Washington DC and was given a tour by our congressman at my dad's request. Our congressman invited us to eat lunch where he did (I don't remember the name...it was where congressmen and senators ate). We heard about their famous Senate Bean Soup and I knew I would have to eat it. I was told it would be good, and that I had to be on my best behavior. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the experience. When the day came and the soup was in front of me, I ate it, and something very odd happened. I liked it. In fact, the only thing I remember about the lunch was discovering there was a version of ham and bean soup that was good.
After the trip my mother made the senate soup a couple of times and it was pretty yummy. I've successfully made it, too. What made it good? First, I never use the big beans. The senate soup had the small navy beans. My school always used great northern beans amd to this day I won't touch them. But the small ones work. Second, don't just make it out of ham hocks and beans. Add other vegees and seasonings. I like to add some chopped onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. Hickory flavoring helps, too. Last, it needs some body but it shouldn't be too thick. No glue, please. That's just gross!
Back to the Pin....I have posted a link to what looks like a good bean soup. It's time for a nice hearty soup; it's very cold here! Maybe I'll make it with a 12 bean mix that is good (after I pick the great northern beans out... ) http://www.wiveswithknives.net/2009/10/23/white-bean-and-ham-soup-on-a-chilly-foodie-friday/
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