Lest we forget that it is still winter here in Utah, the snow came back to remind us that it’s not yet time to pull out the shorts and flip flops. Whatever.
I go barefooted most of the time anyway, at least in the house. Even if my feet are cold, I will not put on shoes or socks. Feet are meant to be free.
When I was a kid I hated shoes. Hated them. Especially, I hated Sunday shoes. They were the bane of my existence. My feet had been hanging free all week and then Sunday would roll around and it meant two horrible things: 1) I would have to wear some ridiculous, over-starched, ironed-crisp dress under which I wore a scratchy “crenoline” so that my dress would poof out, and, 2) I would have to buckle my feet into a pair of black patent leather Mary Janes.
The real issue with shoes when I was little was that I couldn’t wiggle my toes. I had to be able to wiggle my toes or else the shoes would feel too small. My mother was not sympathetic to my cause. If the shoe-store lady said that a certain pair of shoes were the right size, then by jingo it meant that my mom was going to buy them even if I cried the most bitter tears a child could muster.
The toe wiggling thing is still an issue when I try on shoes. No wiggle, no buy.
Although I will not stuff my cold feet into a pair of warm shoes, I will stuff warm, filling, deliciously wonderful soup into my belly when it is cold outside. Soup and winter were made for each other.
This Navy Bean and Collard soup fills me up beautifully. Collards are one of my most favorite greens. Their flavor is robust and can be made even more so with bacon and a touch of vinegar.
Real women eat collards. And beans.
I’ve always been a fan of navy beans and when they tango with collards in this soup, winter seems to melt away. Oooooo…tango. Such an accurate description…
Navy Bean and Collard Soup
- 2 pounds ham hocks
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 8 cups chopped collards, 2 bunches
- 5 (15.5 ounce) cans navy beans or 9 cups cooked navy beans
- 6 slices regular cut bacon, chopped
- 4 carrots, cut into generous 1/2-inch rounds
- 3 stalks celery, medium dice
- 1 medium onion, medium dice
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt & pepper, to tatste
- grated Parmesan cheese, optional
- red wine vinegar, optional
- In a large stockpot, put the ham hocks, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover pot, lower heat to medium low or low; simmer for 1 hour.
- Add the collards and navy beans to the stockpot. Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to a frying pan add the chopped bacon and cook over medium heat until fat has rendered. To the bacon and rendered fat, add carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Saute over medium heat just until vegetables are crisp tender, about 7 minutes.
- Add vegetable mixture and red pepper flakes to stockpot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring back to simmer and cook for 15 minutes, covered, stirring as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings to personal preference.
- Remove ham hocks to a plate or cutting board. When cool enough to handle, shred meat and stir into soup.
- Fill soup bowls with soup. Pass the grated Parmesan cheese and red wine vinegar, allowing each guest to season their soup as desired.
The red wine vinegar is optional, but recommended. Add several drops, or desired amount, to each bowl of soup and stir. Sprinkle soup with Parmesan cheese or other tart cheese such as Kerrygold's Dubliner.