Soup Series: Dad’s Bean Soup

When we were growing up, one of the  most vivid memories for us was the sound of the pressure cooker. I know that sounds weird, but I can honestly say that 90% of weekends as a child, that sound was present in our home. I’ve personally never ventured down the pressure cooker path before – it’s kind of intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing to be honest. That whistle and rattle of the old-school metal pot takes me immediately back to my childhood, and we all agreed today that we love it.

This weekend was chuck full of family time. I am feeling SO lucky because we helped my sister move into the sweetest lake front apartment only 7 minutes from our house. It’s bright, cozy and perfect for her PLUS there is little better than living in the same city as your best friend (and the best auntie around). Even better, my brother is home for a week from Fargo – we made some pretty fantastic memories, laughed a lot and my heart is so full.

Okay, let’s get to it. This recipe is one that I LOVE, but it’s one that I’ve never actually made before – so all the credit goes to my dad. This soup is classic, healthy and SO easy (once you get over the pressure cooker anxiety).

What You Need

  • Diced Ham (about 1 pound or so)
  • 1 bag of navy beans
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • S&P to taste (approximately 1 tsp of each)

For the beans: Okay, I’ll be completely honest – uncooked (not in a can) beans are intimidating to me. This was my first rodeo, and I’m pleasantly surprised. The trick is to put the beans in a pot or bowl, and fill with water (about an inch above the beans) overnight. This really helps soften them up. I rinsed well today just before adding them to the soup, and they were perfect.

Heat some olive oil in the pressure cooker and add the diced ham. We let it get a little browned and crispy on the edges until there were little bits sticking to the bottom of the pot. From there add about an inch of water – just to cover the ham and scrape up the delicious bits from the bottom. The “ham water” lol, that sounds disgusting, but I promise it’s glorious will be colored, and smell SO good. Next up add your diced veggies, salt and pepper and fire that baby up. My dad’s pressure cooker is old school – so it has this little knob that goes on the top measuring the pounds of pressure. It honestly is kind of a science to get it perfect. The new fancy cookers are electronic and basically include no brain power, BUT if you’ve got a dinosaur like us, we cranked the heat with the lit shut and the knob on 10 lbs for about 30 minutes, until the pressure cooker started to scream at us. Once there, we lowered the cook temp to very low and let it cook there for about 40 more minutes. All the while, the knob on top would whistle and shake on and off for about every 30 seconds. Then we shut off the heat, cracked the lid and let the soup cool for a long time – it was SO hot.

I am happy to report that not only was it so delicious, Dane loved it and we conquered the pressure cooker. I loved this weekend. Heart is full, glass of wine to wind down and a little Shameless binge are on deck.

Thanks Dad, for sharing this amazing recipe with us, so easy, so tasty and such a good memory.


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Wisconsin wife and mama to Dane (4) and expecting baby girl in May. Navigating life post-cancer. Lover of food, red wine and laughs. Forever grateful for my wonderful life.

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