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Ham Stock

Hi all!
This is my first post, tho I've been following Chowhound for a while. You folks are a wealth of knowledge, and I'm hoping you can help me with a question.

Last weekend I made ham stock, no veggies or seasonings, just boiled ham juice. It's beautiful and flavorful and froze with no issues. I have 22 cups of this lovely liquid, and planned on making my grandmother's pea soup and bean soup over the next few months. Problem is that I'm working from memory and can't recall how she actually used the liquid in the soups!

I *think* the stock was used in place of the water to form the base of the soup, after the peas or beans were soaked in plain water. Heat stock, add hydrated beans, add sweated carrots and onion, season. After watching countless videos and reading countless recipes online, I'm stumped tho. Almost every one calls for boiling the ham (hock) and adding it to the soup but leaving the ham water out. Do you suppose this is because most people don't have ham stock on hand?

Has anyone ever heard of using ham stock as the actual liquid in bean or pea soup, or have I lost my mind? It's been some 20 years since I've made either of these soups, so my memory may be off. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. My grandmothers favorite use of a "nice ham bone" was to make either Navy bean or split pea soup. I called both DUMP recipes, for lack of a better word!?!

    Bone went iin big pot, along with diced up carrots, onions, and celery... and a bay leaf. Then in went a bag of dried beans (don't remember her EVER soaking them?) or dried split peas. Filled pot to top with water, brought to boil and then down to LOW. Stirred occasionally... till "done"... went beans were soft or peas were pretty much smooth. If soup was reducing quicker than beans/peas were cooking, she'd just add a little more water.

    Don't know, but think there's a chance that soup might end up a little salty if you start with stock... depending on how salty ham was to begin with. Definitely wouldn't add salt till it was about done and tasted.

    1. I use ham stock from braising a smoked ham or smoked shoulder. My mother baked ham so she did not have stock. My stock is very strong so I only use about two or three cups for a pound of beans. It becomes too salty if I use all ham stock. For the rest of the liquid I use water or unsalted chicken stock, but it should be flavorful. I also save some of the braised ham and add it at the end. I do not like ham after it has cooked a long time in water (to me it becomes tasteless unless it is country ham).

      I don't soak spit peas. Other beans I soak or not depending on my prep. A "quick soak" (boil a min or two and leave for an hour) works well for me, too. (I used to make 15 bean soup with just the package from the store and it was very good. A friend's older southern relatives thought I could "really" cook when they ate my bean soups. Used the recipe on the package with the addition of my ham stock and ham.)

      Just as you say sweat some onion, carrots, garlic, and celery. I add some of these at the start with enough ham stock so the bean cooking liquid is good tasting but only mildly salty. (Add maybe a bay leaf(remove before blending) and some thyme as well) and then after the beans are cooked I usually blend at least some of the beans fairly smooth (with split peas I blend them all or just cook until they are smooth with just a stir). Then I add the rest of the cooked vegetables and cubed pieces of ham and cook these with the beans about 10 to 20 minute. Split peas are easy you just cook until they are completely soft. Other beans I usually do not cook to mush, but cook till tender but not disintegrating and I only blend some and keep some whole.

      Bean soups especially I think split pean thicken a lot by the next day. I just add a little water (or stock if needed) to heat up.

      1. Use it as you wish. I have and do. ~~ Taste before adding salt to whatever you cooking. ~~ Enjoy!

        1. I make ham stock as the first step in making a copycat version of Campbell's Bean & Bacon soup, and use it instead of water to cook the beans, takes the soup to a whole different level.

          1. I've never preboiled ham hocks. I just add them to the pot along with the rest of the ingredients, and I generally use homemade chicken stock for the liquid. Did you just make a pot of boiled ham hocks by itself and that is your "ham stock"? When I make bean soups I just put the ham bone in the pot along with the veggies and other ingredients and cook them together.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rasputina

              The stock is from the Christmas ham. Bone, meat, pan drippings, the whole shebang.