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Author Notes: Bean soup in Bulgaria is a "national" dish. Most popular is the Monastery Version which is totally vegetarian. When our family makes it, however, we like to add a little meat for a smoky flavor. A smoked ham hock or smoked neck bones along with paprika and fresh mint give this a very distinctive flavor. —inpatskitchen
Makes about 5 quarts
- 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, soaked in water for about 6 hours, rinsed and then cooked in water for 45 minutes to an hour until tender
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced onion
- 1 1/2 cups diced carrot
- 1 1/2 cups diced celery
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 cups water
- 5 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 1 large smoked ham hock
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh winter savory ( or one teaspoon dried savory)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- Additional salt, black pepper and paprika for reseasoning
- After cooking your beans, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and add the onion, carrot celery and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onion softens.
- Add the crushed red pepper, paprika, salt and black pepper and continue to saute for just a few more minutes.
- Add the water, chicken broth and ham hock, bring up to a boil and simmer for about an hour, partially covered.
- Remove the ham hock from the pot to let cool. Turn the heat off from under the soup pot and stir in the beans, mint, parsley and savory.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup for just a minute to break up some of the beans. (Alternatively remove about a cup of the beans to a bowl and mash them with a fork and then return them to the pot)
- Remove any meat from the ham hock, dice it finely and return it to the pot. Return the soup to a simmer and reseason with salt, pepper and paprika.
- NOTE: This soup is best when made very early in the day or even the day before serving.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Beans
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dinner That Makes a Good Lunch
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for Autumn Soup
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dish with Meat as a Flavoring