White Bean Soup with Ham

Prepared: April 4, 2020

With the Corona Virus raging around us we have been thinking “comfort food”; a nice hearty bean soup/stew was in order. I’ve made this dish at least twice before when I called it Senate Bean Soup: April 2014 and again in January 2015.

I had a bag of white beans from Rancho Gordo along with chicken stock, onion, carrots, and garlic – it’s a pretty simple recipe. While we had a smoked ham hock in the freezer, I prefer this with a ham bone, but I didn’t want to be in contact with anyone. I called our local Honey Baked Ham shop and discovered we could have an – almost – touch-free experience: I ordered online then called when we got to the parking lot so they could deliver it to our car. When we got home, we – of course – discarded the plastic packaging since people had touched it.

We bought just a ham bone (not a full ham); nevertheless, it had plenty of meat on it; the recipe calls for about 1½ pounds and this was well north of 2 pounds. So, I cut off a big chunk we used in our scrambled eggs and ham sandwiches this week.

As I said, there aren’t a lot of ingredients for this soup.

Bean soup mis en place.

Cooking in the pressure cooker is hard to capture in pictures since everything is in a closed environment. The first step is to sauté the onion and carrot in the melted butter until softened, then add the garlic for about a minute. In go the beans, ½ teaspoon salt, ham bone, chicken stock, and beans – which were brined overnight. Cook under high pressure for 12 minutes followed by a 12 minute natural release.

Remove the ham bone to a cutting board using a pair of tongs. Then to thicken the soup by putting 2 cups of the cooked beans in a 1 quart Pyrex measuring cup/bowl and used a stick blender on low speed to make a slurry.

Ready to blend 2 cups of the beans
Blended beans ready to go back in the pot
(See note about the photography)

After shredding the ham, discarding the bone, and putting the meat in the soup dinner was served.

Senate Bean Soup
(See note on the photography)

Did I mention we had cornbread? We use Marie Calendar’s pre-mixed package. It may not be homemade but it is delicious. More like cake than bread.

Corn bread with copious amounts of butter and honey.
(See note on photography)

What a nice dinner. I originally based this on the Senate Bean Soup recipe published by Mike Vrobel of Dad Cooks Dinner, but I’ve made adjustments to it – adding a carrot and chicken stock – that it isn’t really much like the true original; so I created my own recipe – White Bean Soup with Ham – which you can find here.

A note on the photography. I used my Sony A6600 with a Godox XPro-S flash trigger in the hot shoe and two Godox TT685-S flashes shooting into reflective umbrellas. Except for the dinner table shots which were shot with just one umbrella resulting in a bit more shadow. The result was a well lighted scene.

In a couple of shots – those indicated in the captions – the light was balanced over the entire frame but I wanted to bring a little more attention to the stars of the shot. For those I used radial filters in LightRoom to mask the subject while lowering exposure, highlights, saturation, and what-not on the perimeter. The trick is to get just enough adjustment in to be barely noticeable. I owe a big shout out to Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom System on-line course. Matt is a Lightroom and Photoshop master. But mastery isn’t enough on its own. Matt is also a great teacher. He breaks Lightroom into a number of chapters, working from the very basics, through importing photos, to basic and advanced editing and beyond. Brushes, radial filters and graduated filters are incredible tools that provide the ability to post process photos with amazing results.

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