If you were to ask me, I would tell you that the best part about a ham is the bone. Our local meat market stopped carrying bone-in hams a couple of years ago, so I was forced to find a new meat market. I can’t even comprehend how they “make” hams without the bones. Seems a little funny to me.
But anyway, that ham bone is great because it make an awesome soup. I sometimes think of it as free food – take something that you might have thrown away, add a couple cheap veggies, and you end up with a very healthy and easy soup.
To make traditional ham bone soup, you simmer it the ham bone in a pot of water all day long and eventually you end up with a great stock for a bean soup. The little bits of meat loosen up while it’s simmering and it makes the perfect soup for a cold winter day.
This year, I decided there was no need to simmer all day long. Save energy, save time, all that good stuff. So, I modified my ham bone and bean soup recipe for the pressure cooker. Perfect!
The only trick to this recipe is a little thinking ahead on the beans. The night (or morning) before you make the soup, take a couple cups of beans and cover them with 2-3 inches of cold water in a big pot. 8-12 hours later, drain the beans and you are ready for the soup. I usually soak extra beans, drain them and freeze them in two cup portions – ready to go in a recipe that calls for soaked beans and no planning required. If you are in a time crunch, you can also do a quick soak of your beans.
You can make this recipe with any bean you like. I love it with cannellini, but a bag of mixed beans (sometimes called a 15-bean soup mix) is great also. Have fun with it!
Here’s the recipe. Hope you enjoy.
- 1 cooked ham bone, with meat left on
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 16 ounces of beans, soaked - any kind will do, but cannellini or mixed soup beans are a good start
- 2 cups of chopped carrots
- 2 cups of chopped celery
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a 6 quart or larger pressure cooker, sauté the onion until translucent - not brown. Add the ham bone, bay leaf and 8 cups of water. Lock lid and bring cooker to high pressure for 25 minutes.
- Quick release pressure and add remaining ingredients. This is a big soup - do not fill cooker past the ⅔ line. Lock lid and return cooker to high pressure for 6-12 minutes, depending on your bean. Smaller beans like black beans will be 6 minutes, larger beans like cannellini will be 10-12 minutes.
- Release pressure naturally and remove lid.
- Remove ham bone. While ham bone is cooling, keep soup at a simmer. If you like a creamier soup, you can use a spoon to mush some of the beans up in it.
- When the bone is cool enough to handle, tear off the bits of ham still attached and return the ham to the soup.
- Serve with a crusty bread and enjoy!