Sometimes life sends you a curve ball, this time it came in the shape of a snowstorm.

Instead of being with my family this Sunday, I’m going to be enjoying Sunday supper with the kitties.

I haven’t introduced you to the furry members of my family,  BoBo and Holly.  For those of you saying, oh no, she has cats!  I have to say that I love dogs as well, and have had many; the last being our wonderful collie, Tara.  But now, we have cats…two old cats that hate each other, but they really love me and my family, and we love them.

So, as the snow starts to swirl landing softly as butterflies on the branches and lawns, I know that I will not be driving today, and maybe not tomorrow either.  It’s time to snuggle in at home and make, well what?  I wasn’t planning on being here, what’s in the freezer and pantry that sounds perfect for a frigid, snowy night?

How about soup?  Yep, perfect!  OK, now what’s in the kitchen.  In the pantry I find a bag of mixed beans, a can of crushed tomatoes, on the counter are garlic and herbs, in the fridge, carrots and celery are hiding in the vegetable bin, the freezer holds a bone.  A nice, big ham bone, that was once the focus of a feast, I’m all set.

I let the beans soak for about 6 hours (or you could let them soak overnight) while the ham bone defrosts.  BoBo insists on having a bit of the ham, straight off the bone, and I’m not immune to his little, plaintive cries, so ham for him.  He seems to having a growing love for pork products that he used to reserve only for shrimp.

So as the storm rages outside, BoBo, Holly and I get cozy by the fire and enjoy our impromtu dinner party.  Milk for everyone!  Cheers!

Hearty Bean Soup with Ham

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

A hearty soup that's perfect on a cold winter night!

Ingredients:

10 cups of water

2 cups beans (I really like to use mixed beans, you can either combined them yourself, or purchase mixed beans at the store). If you are making your own mix, some good ones to add would be: navy beans, red beans, black beans, green lentils, yellow lentils, split peas...have fun with it.
1 ham bone or 2 ham hocks
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (I was out of onions, but if I had them I would have added one)
1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes, you could use whole or diced as well.
1 bouquet garni (What's that?) It's a combination of herbs and spices that you place in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine. In mine I put a bay leaf, 6 black peppercorns, 6 cloves, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 2 sprigs fresh thyme, but you could use a combination of some of your favorite flavors.
4 carrots, sliced
2 stocks celery, sliced (go ahead and add the tops as well)

Salt and pepper to taste (I didn't use any salt, because we are cutting back on sodium and for me, the ham added enough salt).

Directions:

Rinse beans and scan for any duds that are wrinkled or (heaven forbid) rocks. Rinse well.

Place 2 cups dried beans in large pot and cover with water by two inches. Let soak for about 6 hours or overnight. Some might float to the top, discard these.
Drain and rinse the beans.
Place beans back in large pot and add 10 cups water, ham bone, chopped garlic, chopped onion, crushed tomatoes, and bouquet garni.
Bring ingredients to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered 1 3/4 hours.
Remove ham bone.
Add carrots and celery and simmer 15 minutes till tender.
When it is cool enough to touch, pull the meat from the ham bone and cut into small pieces, then put ham pieces back into pot.

Serve.

Enjoy!