Not many options to use a big old ham bone if you don’t want to make a pot of beans. Which I definitely don’t. Thank you New York Times for this amazing soup recipe so I didn’t toss it.
I made a few changes, of course. I found really cooking the heck out of the ham bone is the way to get the marrow to release into the broth, which is stunning. The cabbage turns into something deliciously unrecognizable and silky.
I didn’t add the beans and didn’t miss them. Admittedly, they would add a little more heartiness if you so desire.
Ham Bone Soup – Serves 10
4 strips bacon, thick cut, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ham bone, most extra meat trimmed off, but keep it and add it to the soup at the end
1 bay leaf
8-10 springs of thyme, tied up into a bundle
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 head green cabbage, cut into 1/2 pieces
1 box chicken stock
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
1 small bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped into bite-size pieces, 6 cups
Juice of 1 lemon
Black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce or sherry | balsamic | apple cider vinegar, to taste
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the carrots, celery and onion to the pot. Stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cabbage and cook 3-4 more minutes. Drop in the ham bone, bay leaf and thyme. Cover with 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Remove the bay leaf, thyme bundle and ham bone. Your liquid should be reduced quite a bit. Add the chicken stock, beans, lemon juice, any extra ham meat from the bone and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the kale and simmer until soft, but vibrantly green, about 15 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve with hot sauce or sherry, balsamic or apple cider vinegar. Serve with crumbled bacon on top.