White Beans and Ham hock soup

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I love beans, they are satisfyingly delicious and simple to prepare. When I’m organized, I remember to soak them overnight. If I’m not, I get them out in the morning to have at least 3-4 hours soaking time. When I’m utterly disorganized I use beans in a can. I never thought you could tell the difference, but you can. Please give it a try. This recipe is so easy and economically friendly on your wallet too.

To soak or not to soak

There are 2 schools of thought regarding soaking beans. To soak or not to soak that is the question? If you are not too concerned about digestion and the added sound effects of bean eating, then it’s not necessary to soak the beans. I soak dry beans now that I know the added benefit of soaking them. Add the bicarbonate of soda. I read here that the bicarb “adds sodium ions that weaken the pectin” and “creates an alkaline environment which means the water has a pH slightly above neutral pH, which is pH 7”  Do your own research and find out for yourself. I also read an article by Epicurious that prefers not to soak. In the meantime follow this recipe for a truly delicious pot at beans.

500g small white beans

Water to cover

800g ham hock (pork shank)

8-10 garlic cloves chopped

1 small onion chopped

125 ml olive oil

10g sage leaves

Rinse beans until water runs clear

Soak beans in clean water covered by about 2-3 cm with 2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda for 3-4 hours

  • Rinse again
  • Add beans to heavy bottom cast iron pot and cover with fresh water by 2cm
  • Hard boil for 10 min and remove any scum that floats to the top
  • Turn heat down to a lazy gentle roil
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and gently simmer for 1 hour
  • Check again and continue cooking until beans are soft not mushy and ham is firm but ready to fall off the bone.
  • Check seasoning, now you can add the salt and pepper.
  • Serve with freshly baked sourdough focaccia and loads of olive oil

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