The Right Way To Use Ham Bones To Flavor Soup

Often enjoyed at holidays but just as good for Sunday dinner any other time of the year, large, bone-in hams provide a hearty, easy-to-prepare meal. After enjoying that meal, you may be wondering what to do with a ham bone. After all, these large bones are packed with flavor and shouldn't just be tossed out. Well, they are great as a base flavor component in a soup. With its salty, smokey flavor, a ham bone can create a wonderful soup base with beans and peas.

No matter what type of soup you wish to create, don't make the mistake of just tossing the ham bone into the soup at the start of the cooking process. Instead, make a stock with the ham bone first, then use that as the foundation to build a fantastic soup that has just the right level of pork goodness in the background.

Though it may seem like a time-consuming extra step, it's actually the best way to get the robust but not overpowering flavor and doesn't have to take much time at all. You can even add pasta and cracklins to your soup right at the end for more texture and a heartier version.

Don't dump it all in together, but make a ham stock first

A common mistake when preparing a soup with a ham bone is to toss in the entire bone at the start of cooking. Though this will impart exceptional ham flavoring into the soup, it may not produce a quality result due to the uneven cook times for other ingredients. For example, if you decide to add in beans and peas, it will take the beans several hours to cook. Peas, on the other hand, need about 40 minutes.

Let's say you decide to put the ham bone into the soup at the start of the process while cooking the beans. After the two or so hours of cook time, the beans are sure to have lots of depth of ham flavor, but the beans, which had just 40 minutes of time with the ham, probably didn't get much of that flavor at all.

Making a ham stock allows you to create a base flavoring tool that's perfectly rich in flavor without having one component too salty or savory. Make a stock that includes onions, celery, carrots, and garlic cloves cooked down as a base. Perhaps in some olive oil or, if you want even more flavor, bacon fat. Add in the ham bone with any extra scraps left and cover with water. Cook it for 10 minutes or so, then finish with your favorite fresh herbs to compliment your wonderful bean soup.