Boatman's Bean Soup

Boatman's Bean Soup
Boatman’s Bean Soup -
from Elizabeth Kytle's "Home on the Canal." Published January 1, 1910

 - 1 lb Great northern beans (or navy beans. Most canallers prefer navy beans)

- 2 quarts water: use enough to cover the beans by about 0.5-1 inch of water.

- 2 medium Irish potatoes, diced

- 1 large onion, chopped

- 1 pint of canned tomatoes or 4 large ripe tomatoes, cut up

- 1 large ham bone or ham hock; cut lean meat off and put in kettle (or soup pot).

*Using a dried and salted meat is important as the salt from the meat will season the stew and give it a nice flavor. Ham bone and ham hock can be found at many local grocery stores or you can ask a local butcher. This recipe can also be made without meat, though many additional herbs and seasoning should be added to make up for the lack of meat.

*When you add the ham hock or ham bone, there are a couple of ways to go about it: you can add the entire thing without removing the meat and then remove the meat from the bone once it is cooked and keep it in the soup while removing the bone; you can also remove the meat from the bone, then add both the meat and the bone to the soup, removing the bone once the soup is done.

 1. Soak beans overnight and drain

 2. Add water, potatoes, onion, and ham bone and cook until potatoes are done but still firm (*around 15-20 minutes).

*Beans should also be in the soup at this point. I like to cook the beans in the water for 5-10 minutes beforehand to soften them a bit so when they are cooked with the rest of the ingredients it creates a creamier base for the soup. Cook this soup covered and at a gentle simmer.

3. Add tomatoes and cook (for) 30 minutes more

 4. Season to taste

*If you use a salted dried meat, make sure to try the soup before adding more salt, but some fresh thyme would be a nice touch.

Note: More water may need to be added as beans cook

Serves 6, If you are serving fairly large, hearty bowls.