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Ham and Bean Soup

I’ve had a hard time focusing lately.

On the weeks that I actually exercise, I only manage to blog once–if I’m lucky.  I’ve been cooking and baking just as often, but ignoring my poor camera laying forlorn in a corner covered in cat hair.

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Okay, not totally covered, because I do find time to (make Fritz) vacuum.

The most important thing I have been doing, however, is filling our weekends with visits with friends and long walks outside, exploring all the parks and arboretums that Long Island has to offer and that we haven’t bothered to discover until we knew we were moving.

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Just soaking in spring, I guess.

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And trying to spend times with the friends and family who we will be leaving soon.

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Needless to say, I frequently find myself thinking of shutting down the blog.  That way, I can do whatever I want in my free time without feeling guilty.

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But here’s the thing.  Besides needing an outlet in which I can write exclusively in sentence fragments without facing (much) judgement, I started this blog as a creative outlet for myself.  Even when my mom was the only person reading it (hi Mom!), it helped me pass long hours of boredom while Fritz was studying and while I was exhausted from trying to cram my brain full of physical therapy notes.

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Now that I’m working in the real world, Fritz is more available (senior year! holla!), and I have some really great girlfriends that I want to spend time with, I don’t need my blog as much.  But I still like it.  And feeling guilty about not writing in it is something that only I have created.  No one else cares if I post once a week or seven times a week (except, perhaps, Mom!).

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So for now, I’m gonna keep this thing kicking.  But I’m going to continue to focus on stuff that makes our lives richer, like having friends over for brunch or serving Fritz a fancy warm dinner without having to take 1,000 pictures of it.

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But when the stars align, and I feel like breaking out my SLR, or I found a recipe that’s really worth sharing, or I want to remember what kind of cake I made Fritz for his birthday this year, or I need motivation to make something wacky with spaghetti squash that y’all might like, then I’ll blog it.

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No pressure.

Plus, I’m moving again and just might find myself needing to blog more often until we establish ourselves.

Also, sometimes I overthink things.  Thanks for listening!

in recipe news, here’s how we used up our leftover Easter ham this year (aside from eating it cold, straight from the fridge–I’m a classy lady, folks).

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Ham and Bean Soup

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • leftover ham bone
  • 2-3 C diced ham
  • 5-6 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 can (14-oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • bunch kale, roughly chopped (I actually used a bag of frozen kale from Trader Joe’s)
  • water to cover
  • salt and pepper to taste

This soup is nothing too exciting–a great way to use up leftovers, and a delicious way to pack your lunch full of vegetables and protein.

Also, I just love having soup at work for lunch.  So filling and comforting, though you do have to face the occasional post-lunch coma with a heavy soup like this.

Start by sautéing the garlic and onion in the vegetable oil over medium heat in a (very) large stock pot.

When they are starting to turn golden and translucent, add the ham and the ham bone and let them simmer.

The browner the hambone (and all the leftover ham on it that I’m too lazy to get off) gets, the more delicious your soup will be.  This is all the flavor, baby.

I always buy the shank portion of the ham when I’m making a holiday dinner, because it has the best bone (and therefore flavor) for leftovers.

When the ham is all sizzle-y and delicious, add the potatoes, parsnips, and beans.  Toss in the kale and cover the whole thing with water (feel free to toss in a little broth here, if you wish!).  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the bone and season with salt and pepper.  I think the most important part of this soup is the last step–take a potato masher and roughly mash the soup, breaking up about half of the potatoes and parsnips.  This thickens the whole thing up and gives it a much better texture than a thin-broth-with-stuff-in-it that you started out with.

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As always, soups like this are born to be full of substitutions.  Use what you have and try new stuff–it’ll probably be delicious.

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A soup like this is forgiving.  That’s why ham is so awesome–tastes great with everything!

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I’ll be having the last bowl tomorrow for lunch, then I’m braving another round with my worst enemy of fad food–spaghetti squash.  Pad thai version.

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Also, I made carrot cake cupcakes for a friend’s birthday tomorrow!  Can’t wait to share them.

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27 comments

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  1. Bonny

    Hey Girl,
    For what it’s worth, I read allllll your blogs and LOVE THEM. I feel very connected to you and Fritz. I wish you well………and hope that you will find a way, somehow, to keep in touch with the rest of us…thank you for all you have done.
    Most sincerely,
    Bonny

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Thanks Bonny–it’s worth a lot to hear that! Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  2. Bonny Gleason

    Hey Girl,

  3. Bonny Gleason

    Hi Lady,
    I love getting your blogs and keeping up with your life. I wish you and Fritz well and do hope that we will hear from you on a regular basis. Thank you for all you do.
    Bonny

  4. Scott

    Lauren:

    I seem to be your only male reader, other than Henry. And with you posting pics of the cats, I don’t have to have one or vacuum the cat hair!

    Anyway, just saying your blog is the ONLY one I keep on my “send me a notification via email” list so I don’t miss a post–in addition to following on social media.

    I’m perfectly happy with a once-a-week blog–or whatever works for you, but your recipes are always amazing, and thanks to you, I’m a green monster junkie, which my doc loves.

    So keep on blogging and leave the guilt for the guilty.

    Scott

    PS: I was looking for a new/better ham/bean soup recipe. Thanks!

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Thanks Scott! I always appreciate your comments! Also, my statistics analytics informs me that just a little less than half (i think, cant remember exactly off the top of my head) of my readers are male–guess they just don’t comment! I was surprised by that as well, but thanks for reppin’ your demographic :) and guilt for the guilty–I like that phrase–thanks again :)

  5. Lena

    I don’t think I have ever commented before, but I have been following your blog for awhile. I really enjoy your pictures and recipes! My favorite one is the cumin pork, but all that I’ve tried have been good. No pressure to blog, but know that you do have fans whenever you feel like it :)

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Thanks Lena. :)

  6. Maria

    I totally look forward to your blog posts–for the fun voice that comes through as well as the pics of Henry and Emerson. Where are you two moving to? Wishing you well and I understand needing the freedom to let the blog not rule. I feel the same way about mine sometimes.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      We are moving to Rochester in a month and a half!

  7. Hannah

    As always, love your blog. But only if you love it too. I also appreciate sentence fragments. Sometimes. I’ve been known to do the same. I can’t wait until you are closer to home, then we can just see each other more often, and not need blogging (as much) to keep in touch. Enjoy actually living your life, and never worry about having to fulfill ours with yours. XX Mom

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Mom…you are amazing.

  8. Nuts about food

    Alas, I know that feeling all too well. And I agree that if you are writing the blog for you and you are not concerned about your numbers, it really doesn’t matter how often you post. There is nothing worse than feeling guilty about something you started as a personal pleasure. The people who enjoy reading you, like me, will keep coming back.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Exactly. I want to still find pleasure in the blog…and I still do!

  9. Cindy

    I follow the blog too!!

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      thanks!

  10. Jennifer Hershberger

    Hi Lauren!
    You’ve got something special, no matter if you’re doing it and blogging about it or just doing it.
    The balance thing is tricky and you seem to be ‘getting it’ way earlier than I did. Sometimes we’re so busy chronicling, that I worry we’re busy missing out on the moment.

    All good things to you and I will happily take a few minutes to read…whenever you post!
    Sentence fragments make the world go ’round.

    p.s. your mom’s note is the best

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Sorry about the delay in responding, but I really appreciate you commenting! I think it’s also important to note that the balance is always shifting…some months, I can blog a lot more and still feel balanced. Other months, not so much.

  11. Leah Ferguson

    No, no no, Lauren! I read the line about you thinking about shutting down the blog and I actually said out loud (no one was around, so that’s cool, right?), “You better not!” I have to tell you, I check three food blogs in regular rotation: Orangette, Smitten Kitchen, and yours. YOURS. So no pressure, or anything, but…you have a grateful audience. You have such a positive voice, your recipes are great (and varied–I love that I made your almond butter one week and samosa casserole the next) and your pictures are adorable–your site definitely has a place among those other bloggers (who, uh, all eventually write and publish books, but you know, no pressure… ;)

    Also, your mom is awesome.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      She is totally awesome…and thanks so much for your comment. It does make blogging feel more worthwhile to know that people feel like that :)

  12. Liz

    As much as I enjoy keeping up with you and Frtiz and the kitties, and as much as I’ll miss you all when you’re gone, I totally echo your mom’s sentiments (us moms have to stick together!). Blog because you want to, not because you feel obligated to. I’ll just have to stalk you guys on facebook, or pester Jen for updates! Did I mention how proud I am of you both, and how excited I am that you’re embarking on the next chapter of your lives together?
    You are 2 of my favorite people, and I send you lots of love.
    Don’t forget your LI Mom, lol ;)

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I will definitely miss my LI mom when we move to Rochester :(

  13. Stefanie Olin Extraordinaire

    If you shut down this blog I will kidnap your cats! That is all.

  14. Amber

    DON’T shut it down! My husband and I LOVE your recipes. I just started trying your green monsters even though I HATE spinach and can’t believe how much I love them.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      thanks! glad you like them :)

  15. Erika

    Hi! I think this is the first time I comment, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I totally love it.
    Yes, you started this blog for yourself, but you’ve achieved great things (I’m Italian and there’s an ocean between us :) ). So, be proud of it and don’t forget that whenever you wanna post, you have fans all around the world ready to read, ’cause they love your work, no matter how often you do it.
    Good Luck and best wishes ;)

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      thanks so much :)

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