I’ve canned 64 pints of soups and stews in the last week … and I’m doing more today, too. Why the push? That’s easy: I have a diabetic husband who relies on me to feed him meals that are tasty, good for him, and that don’t make him have to take excessive amounts of insulin in order to survive. I’m also getting ready to travel for a month … which means he’s going to be on his own for some 90+ meals. Since I don’t want him to have to fend for himself that entire time, I’m working toward leaving him with a large supply of ready-to-eat meals. My plan is to have enough in the pantry that … if he decides he doesn’t really want to cook the entire time I’m gone … he won’t have to. If he so chooses … his life can be as simplistic as open jar … set 2 minutes on microwave … insert spoon … eat!
Today it was time for Ham and Bean Soup, a real staple around our house. It’s something we ate and loved long before I started shoving everything into a canning jar. However, these days–thanks to the advent of cooking in the jar–it’s even easier than before!
I staged a group of eight jars together: basically one pressure canner load at a time. This soup–just like my “Cooked in the Jar” Potato Soup–scales very nicely. You can basically make as many jars at one time as you have ingredients for. Just load your ingredients into four jars … or forty!
To make each pint, I first measured a generous 1/3rd cup scoop of dried navy beans into each jar. I don’t pre-soak them. I just put them in the jar exactly the way they come in the bag/bulk section. Next, I grabbed a couple of things from my pantry: namely, pints of canned chunk ham and pints of my canned French Onion Soup Base. The ham is just some basic ham I canned a while back, cut into one-half inch chunks, so you could substitute 1/4th cup of chopped ham of any kind. My French Onion Soup Base is basically caramelized thin-sliced onions mixed with concentrated beef consume, then pressure canned. To substitute, you could use something as simple as chopped raw onions–with or without a little beef or ham bullion–to something as complex as your own caramelized onions with concentrated beef soup base. I’ve always had good luck with the Better than Bullion Beef base. The Chicken Base is excellent as well.
I divided each pint of ham chunks into four jars of bean soup … so, roughly 1/3 cup of ham with ham broth. Then I divided each jar of French Onion Soup Base into eight jars … so they each got a couple of teaspoons full. The only other thing I added to my jars were a heavy sprinkle of salt and a couple of grinds of fresh pepper.
At that point, this is what they looked like:
I grabbed my kettle of boiling water and filled each jar up to one inch headspace, then cleaned the lip, screwed on a two-part canning lid, and tucked it into my prepared pressure canner. From there, I processed my soup for 75 minutes at 1opsi. I’m at sea level, so adjust your pressure accordingly.
Voila! Ham and Bean Soup, Cooked in the Jar
See how my navy beans have grown? I make all sorts of dried beans the same way, so I guess I’ll have to write that process up soon. There’s so many things I want to share with all of you. My list just keeps growing and growing!
Cost-wise … if I had to estimate it (and some of this is real guess-ta-mates since I used some of my previous canned goods to make this) … it would look something like this:
- 1/3rd cup dried navy beans……………………………………..$0.16
- 1/2 small onion, caramelized…………………………………..$0.20
- 1/3 cup chopped ham……………………………………………..$0.25
Honestly, some of that is probably over-estimated. Even so, that means my pints of Ham and Bean Soup cost roughly $0.61/pint. Let’s be honest … you can’t beat that in too many places
Possible additions (or substitutions) include:
- 1/3rd cup fresh diced onions
- 2 tablespoons diced bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons sliced celery
- 2 tablespoons of cooked carrots, or of raw shredded carrots
- 2 tablespoons bacon bits
Explore! Make it your own!
Me? I’m just going to make 32 pints of it this way