Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mexicali Bean and Rice Soup

I've had a huge ham bone in my freezer since my office Christmas party. The time has come for it to be used - it just takes up too much space which is needed for other things, especially since I'm having a dinner party on Sunday. I decided on making a huge pot of bean soup in my large, 6 qt. slow cooker/roaster so that I'd have lots and lots of lunches ready, and because the oval shape makes it the only pan that fits the bone without having to saw it into two parts!

I wasn't sure how this would taste, but dear daughter and I really like it. This one is a keeper, for sure.

Mexicali Bean and Rice Soup

1 lb dry beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained

1 large ham bone, with or without meat attached

1 - 2 large onions, chopped (about 1 C or more)

1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with juice

4 cloves garlic, minced (or more)

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbs chili powder

1 1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp ground coriander

2 bay leaves

3 quarts water

Lightly simmer together on top of the stove or in crock pot on med-low for about 2 - 3 hours until beans are tender but still keep their shape. Remove the ham bone and set aside to cool, then remove the ham from the bone, dice, and return it to the pot.

Stir in 3/4 C white rice

1 good handful chopped cilantro

10 oz package of frozen Italian green beans

Cook until the rice is tender. Taste for salt and pepper. I added 1 tsp salt.

Notes: I used cranberry beans which turned a pinkish tan color, so I decided that I needed to put something green into the soup. I almost used up some frozen spinach, but at the last minute, decided to go with the green beans instead and some cilantro. The soup seemed to have too much liquid, so, since it had some Latin flavorings, I added some rice to soak up the added juice rather than pasta. Bill, one of the Veteran's Reps at work, is an artist with the knife, so by the time he got through carving the ham last Christmas, there was virtually none left on the bone, so there is no ham chunks in this soup, but I think it would be tasty with ham or sausage. We like it without though. This made a LOT. It completely filled the 6 quart cooker. We both had a couple of bowls, then I froze 6 portions for lunches, and a little less than half is left over in the fridge. I just might freeze a few more portions, since dear daughter isn't very big on leftovers. This is a very forgiving soup - you can easily vary the seasonings, the type of meat (if any), the type of bean, the type of veggies -- and still end up with a large amount of very tasty soup.

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