I need to start by sending out another big thank you to my father-in-law for passing along a couple more smoked ham hocks to me when we visited with my wife’s family last week. I could have taken two more, but our freezer is fairly full at the moment. You may recall that my first ham hock experience, not more than a few weeks ago, involved making a big batch of lima beans and rice with shredded meat from a smoked hock. This time around, I decided to make a dish my father-in-law likes to prepare when he has ham hocks on hand: soup with potatoes and green beans. I added just a couple more vegetables to the final product.
Given my advanced state, it’s somewhat shocking to me that this was my first successful attempt at making soup from scratch. And I’ll get to enjoy it for a while, as there is a lot leftover.
Making the soup was a two-day affair. The broth was prepared the first evening by giving the hocks a couple hours submerged in simmering water with onion, carrots and celery, along with salt, pepper and sugar. I also filled an herb pouch with fresh Italian parsley, dill and a bay leaf. When it was finished, I strained out much of the onion and celery. After allowing it to cool down, the broth sat overnight in the refrigerator.
The finished broth was rich in color and had a nice aroma. I was looking forward to trying it with the addition of meat and more vegetables the following evening. Giving it a night in the fridge made it easy to skim off most of the thin layer of fat that had risen to the top by the following morning.
I also removed and shredded as much meat as I could get off the two ham hocks, the meat having now been softened after its two-hour bath. That sat in another refrigerated container overnight.
I finished the soup later the second day by reheating it with the addition of the shredded ham, diced potatoes and green beans. I decided to leave some of the finely diced onions and celery, as well as the carrot pieces that were used to prepare the broth in the final product and added another carrot as well.
The finished soup was delicious and exceeded any expectations I may have had.
I froze a quart of the broth for later use, but still have enough soup in the refrigerator to feed us for most of the week. While I will probably make this again, I’ll also be on the lookout for other ham hock recipes.