Friday, January 05, 2007

The Navy Bean Soup Is Perfected

I've always loved Navy Bean Soup, I had never learned to cook it. Last month I made my first attempt. I learned then to never try making it with cheap bacon.

I tried again, finished it yesterday, it's perfect. This one is for Blogfather Harvey.

I put two pounds of navy beans on to soak overnight and slept the sleep of the just. In the morning I poured it all into the colander, washed and dried the bean pot. While the bean pot was drying I cut up a pound of good bacon, about one inch chunks is fine. I then sprayed the bottom of the pot with Pam, put the fire on, a medium heat is fine and dropped in the bacon.

While the bacon was cooking I cut up two medium yellow onions. After the bacon was almost done I drained the bacon grease. Note: don't cook the bacon all the way, just almost all. We want a little bit of fat left, for some reason the soup needs it. Not a lot, a little.

If there is leftover ham or pork chops, that sort of thing, it works just as well as bacon. Once the bacon is drained drop in the onion, beans and water. Fancy places like restaurants and naval vessels always have other vegetables in the soup, carrots, celery, etc. Hmm, there's a big ol' baking potato left over, cut it up and throw it in. What other veggies? Oooh, look there in the freezer, it's a bag of stew vegetables. In it goes.

Since we can't have soup without spices, let's finish up. Garlic? Sure, all I have is garlic powder. Pour it in. Put it in until you are sure there is too much, now add some more. Three or four bay leafs (leaves?), a few shakes of ground sage, a batch of orango and a little bit of thyme. Now some salt, some pepper and some white pepper. Hmm, a little more garlic.

One of my earliest memories is from before we had television where we lived, my mother loved listening to the Tennessee Ernie Ford show on the radio. One of his sponsors was Martha White's Gladiola Brand Cornbread Mix. Make this bean soup, serve with cornbread muffins and you too can say "Goodness gracious, it's pea pickin' good!" Tennessee Ernie was like two hundred years old when he died, he still died too young. The last time we went through Tennessee we stopped at the Grand Ol' Opry and one of the CDs we bought was a twenty-song one by him. If the only song you ever heard of his is Sixteen Tons you would be surprised to learn just how much of his stuff was Rockabilly. And just how racy some of it was. Baby boomers like to act like our parent's generation was so straitlaced. Forgetting, of course, that there were so damned many of us. Judging from our behavior I don't think very many of us were virgin births.

Oh, anyway, serve with cornbread. Oh, and add just a little more garlic. And put some Tennessee Ernie on. Desert should be blackberry pie or cobbler. And listen to Blackberry Boogie.

Note: It doesn't matter how cold it gets at night, don't try to sleep with your head under the covers.

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