HOSSACK: It’s so easy eating beans
It seems everywhere I go these days, I can’t throw a ham hock without hitting one kindred or another.
Not cousins, exactly, but people who know my landscape, have eaten what I’ve eaten.
From Abbotsford to Toronto, stories have been swapped about plucking chickens, canning soup and baking buns.
There have been written confessions to hopeless love affairs with recipes mostly made of cream.
In this time, I’ve been given three Mennonite cookbooks and some recipes on the side.
This week, in response to a recent column about my once-abiding hatred of green beans, came another letter which reads like a postcard from home.
Lori Bradstock from Kamloops writes:
“I was just reading your column of August 18th . . . and was shocked to realize that as a good Mennonite girl you had obviously not grown up eating bean (green and yellow) soup!”
Guilty as charged!
While there may have been bean soup, no one would have wasted it on me.
It’s very un-Mennonite of me, but I was — and am — a persnickety eater.
However, I’m also willing to to admit when I’m wrong and find out what I’ve been missing.
It seems I’ve been missing a lot!
“The Mennonite name we know it by,” Lori says, “is Schaubel Zup.
“It is made with either a smoked meat [ham hock or farmer’s sausage] broth OR with a chicken broth and is distinguished by the flavour of the herb summer savoury [Pappakrut].”
Lori had me at the words farmer’s sausage broth, but there’s more.
Besides the summer beans, there are garden fresh carrots and “the last of the fresh peas and new potatoes. Then you add cream [of course] . . . at the table.”
Well, what else can I say except, please pass the cream?
And thank you for the stories.
(Recipe by Lori Bradstock):
1 cooking onion, quartered
1 parsnip cut into 3 or 4 chunks
4 or 5 new carrots, cut or whole, depending on size
Celery heart with leaves
1 smoked ham hock
3-4 bay leaves
Put all ingredients into stock pot. Fill with water.
Put on stove on high until it comes to a rolling boil.
Turn down heat and simmer for four or more hours.
Remove all solids, discarding everything except the ham hock. Remove the meaty pieces from the ham hock and reserve for the soup.
Put the pot of stock into the fridge to cool until the next morning. When cool, scoop off the layer of fat that has risen to the top and discard.
10 cups of ham stock
1 large cooking onion, chopped
8 cups (approximately) of fresh green and yellow beans, cleaned and chopped into 1-inch pieces (I break, not chop)
Large bunch of summer savoury, well rinsed, but still on stems
2 cups of fresh garden carrots, if small enough they are just scrubbed but not peeled, chopped into coins
2 cups of freshly shelled green peas (generally only added if there are still a few peas left in the garden to pick)
6 (or so) new potatoes, cubed into bite-size pieces (scrubbed but not peeled if fresh from garden)
Cream (if desired)
Bring the stock to a boil and add onion, beans and savoury.
Allow to return to the boil and then reduce heat slightly so just barely boiling.
After 10 or 15 minutes, add the carrots and peas and keep simmering. When the carrots are tender, add the potatoes and continue simmering for 20 minutes.
While the potatoes cook, add the meat from the ham hock plus one or two farmer’s sausages, sliced into bite-sized pieces.
When the potatoes are tender, the soup is ready.
Before serving, remove the herb stems, which will have left all their leaves behind in the soup.
Season to taste. Sweet cream can be added at the table to individual taste.
Serve with Zwieback (buttery fresh buns); the recipe is at
Soup can be heat-processed in jars.
Darcie Hossack is a food writer and author of Mennonites Don't Dance (Thistledown Press). Dean Hossack is an internationally award-winning chef and two-time member of Culinary Team B.C. Send food and cooking questions here.