Thursday, April 11, 2013

Head to Tail Dining...Hearth-Style

The other night, I was having a conversation with Nat and Mel about head to tail dining.  p.s. Don't have this conversation with Nat, she might get sick on you.  If I lived under different circumstances, for example, if I lived on a rural farm in the middle of Scandinavia, I would be the type of person to eat head to tail.  This means, you use EVERYTHING.  I love this idea of waste not, want not and making something good out of the gross parts.

For the record, I don't live in rural Scandinavia, I live in suburban, Utah.  I do not have access to pig entrails or chicken feet or assorted critter parts...I guess I could find them...but it would take some serious work.  So, I don't eat head to tail, but I do attempt to use what I've got to the best of my abilities.

Like many people out there, we had ham for Easter...and there was a lot left over...including the ham bone.  So, in my house the only thing to do after ham dinner, is make ham and beans soup with the leftovers.

You have to plan ahead when you make this recipe because you need to pre-soak your beans the night before.  Simple enough.  Take a bag of dry white beans, I used Great Northern.  Throw them in a dutch oven, sort through them to make sure there aren't any bits of rock or dirt, cover well with water and let soak while you sleep.

This recipe takes 2 to 3 hours to cook, so, well in advance of dinner time, drain your beans and put back in your dutch oven.  Cover the beans with 1 quart of chicken stock and then clean water so that the liquid covers two inches over the beans.  I did not have any chicken instead I used all clean water and then some bouillon cubes.

Dice up an onion and about 5 stalks of celery.  I didn't use carrots, but you could and it would be delicious.  Throw veggies in the water.  Season with some pepper, I would hold off on salt at this point because the ham is salty and the chicken stock/ bouillon cubes may be enough.

Toss in your ham bone and any left over meat.  I typically will turn the ham bone periodically as it ensure all the hammy goodness enters the soup.

Bring pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, top with a lid, slightly ajar, and let simmer for a couple of hours until the beans are nice and soft.  This has taken me as little as two hours and as long as 3 all depends on your beans, so that's why I say give yourself plenty of time.

When your beans are done, remove the bone and ham into a bowl and let cool because you are going to pick the meat off the bone and add it back to your soup.  The best part about doing this yourself is you get to make sure none of the gristly bits go back in.  Shudder.  Even though I like the idea of head to tail...I'm still not going to eat gristle.  Don't try and pick off the meat until it cools though, it will be extremely hot and you don't want to burn yourself.

This soup only gets more flavorful as it sits in your fridge and will last you quite a few meals.  We have eaten this for two days straight and The Mister has taken it for lunch as well...and I still have enough for me to have lunch for a couple more makes a lot!  Quite often what I do, because it makes so much, is throw half the soup in a freezer bag so we can eat it a few months later...then my kids don't get tired of the left-overs.  If you like a touch of spice, sprinkle on a dash of chilli powder in your individual bowl....also, you can eat it like my parents, throw a fresh slice of home-baked bread on a plate and cover it with the soup.

Enjoy eating waste not, want not style!

Thanks for reading.

Shared here:
Modern Christian Homemaker



  1. Yummmmm! Sam and I both love beans and corn bread for dinner! (Good thing too because it's inexpensive!) But....we part ways when it comes to the beans...I like navy, he likes brown beans. We've been compromising with Great Northern!! Looks good Heather!

  2. Yummy I love anything with ham in it. We have a similar soup but use split peas instead of beans.

    Now I want soup!

  3. My mom always cooked like this so whenever I have HM soups and stews it reminds me of home. This sounds delicious! Great photos, Heather.

  4. Oh you're funny, you are!!! Haha!
    My mom made this soup all the time - we loved the beans. She would either get bacon hock or soup bones (beef). It was awesome but I've never been able to get my soup to ever taste like hers. Sean loves to have his soup served over bread too xxx


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