Smoky bean soup and sweet cornbread go together like movies and popcorn—cannot imagine one without the other. Bean soup is one of my favorite post-holiday meals because if its simplicity and delicious use of leftovers.
This particular recipe uses smoked turkey, but a ham bone can be substituted (just in case you saved that ham bone from Christmas dinner!). For those who love bean soup, but don’t love ham, Diestel Smoked Turkey Drums & Thighs impart a sweet, smoky flavor and provide plenty of meat to make a hearty soup.
Navy, Great Northern, Cannellini, pinto, black-eyed peas, or the 15 bean concoction sold in stores are all good choices for this recipe, so feel free to use whatever type you like best. Our favorite is Cannellini, which are like a white kidney bean with a soft, creamy texture.
I like to add a cup of lentils too, which break down when cooked for several hours naturally thickening the soup. Use yellow or red lentils so the color brightens the soup, brown or green lentils can make the soup look dirty. Beans are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals—one meal that can help you keep those New Year resolutions to take better care of yourself.
Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup
2 cups dry beans (soaked)
4-5 quarts of Basic Chicken Stock, or chicken broth
2 Diestel Smoked Turkey Thighs or Drumsticks
1 cup lentils (unsoaked) — optional
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion — chopped
2-3 stalks celery — chopped
2-3 large carrots — chopped
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 whole bay leaf
2 cubes beef bouillon
2 teaspoons Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons cumin
salt and pepper — to taste
Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts water in a large pot. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well.
Chop onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Heat oil in large skillet and add vegetables; cook until caramelized.
Place soaked and rinsed beans, lentils, caramelized vegetables, turkey thighs or drumsticks, and bay leaf in a 6-quart crockpot or large soup pot; cover with water, broth, or Basic Chicken Stock. Be sure to add enough liquid to cover with 2-3 inches above ingredients to allow beans to absorb liquid. Add water, as needed.
Heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-6 hours in a crockpot or 2-3 hours on the stove. Add spices and bouillon the last hour or so until desired flavor is reached. Salt and pepper to taste.
Before serving, remove bones and large pieces of turkey from the pot; allow to cool slightly on a platter. Once cool enough to handle, separate meat from the bones and any unappealing connective tissue. Return meat to the pot and discard bones.
Serve with cornbread and honey-butter.
Optional additions or substitutions: turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, kale, red bell pepper, or hot green chilies