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White Bean Soup with Thyme

October 16, 2012

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Feeding a large family on a small budget requires a lot of creativity.  Buying ingredients that can be used a variety of ways – and then getting them at a great price – can make all the difference in the world when it comes to stretching the budget as far as possible.

We have switched to being primarily Aldi shoppers.  The prices are great, I don’t have to take the extra time and energy to plan my weekly menus out according to what is on sale, or what I have an extra store coupon for at any given time.  The store is small enough that , with my list in hand, and my trusty 12 year old side-kick pushing the cart, I can get a week or more worth of shopping done in about 30 minutes or less.

A week or two ago, my husband did the Aldi’s shopping trip and picked up a ham for 99 cents per pound.  Jackpot!  While we aren’t huge ham eaters, it gives us a few dinners, several breakfasts of ham and cheese omelets for my teenaged son, and a nice ham bone to wrap and put in the freezer to be made into soup later.

Well, later has come!  One of my favorite bean soup recipes comes from Nicke, a friend I’ve been on the same parenting message board for ….. years.  Since back in the day when people frequented internet message boards.  ;-)  We are making her White Bean Soup with Thyme recipe today — it will be perfect this week with our Minnesota kids out of school for a long weekend!

1 lb Great Northern beans, soaked overnight
2 tbsp oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 tsp thyme
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 cans chicken broth (26 oz total)
1 quart water
1 meaty ham bone

Rinse beans and set aside. Saute carrots and onions in oil until onion is translucent (approximately 10 minutes). In your stock pot, put the vegetables, beans, broth, water, spices and ham. Bring to a boil, and simmer 1.5 hours, or until beans are falling apart. Remove ham bone from soup and defat and debone the ham. Add chopped ham meat to the soup. Put half the soup through the blender, then add back to the stock pot, for a thicker, creamier soup.

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