January 30th is my mom’s birthday. I have been wanting to honour her so much with a dish she would be proud of and found a recipe for Best Bean Soup in the Latvian Cooking cookbook she sent me years ago, right after I started this foodie journey.
This recipe is so easy to make! Absolutely perfect for first-time soup-makers and for those who love rustic peasant food like my mom did.
If you prefer, watch the video to see how I make it!
The hard part was finding the smoked pork hock. I called butchers, went to various stores with great meat sections… Nothing! Then, I just had this feeling about a place after going to my doctor’s appointment and there it was. Almost $10!!! My mom would not have been happy with the price but once I found it, I knew I had to make this soup, this week.
You will need 1 smoked pork hock or smoked pork (about 2 lbs), 1 large diced carrot, 1 whole onion (I diced it), 1/2 cup barley (I used pearl), 1 large bay leaf, fresh ground pepper and salt, to taste.
You will also need 1 lb small navy beans, pre-soaked. I pre-cooked mine in my Instant Pot. At the end of the cooking process you will need 2-3 peeled and diced potatoes.
Add everything into the pot except and potatoes, salt and pepper. Cover with water.
Bring to a boil then turn down heat. Simmer for 1 hour and 40 minutes. I like to skim the top as it cooks.
Add potatoes and cook for an additional 20 minutes. This is when I like to season with salt and pepper.
Removed ham hock and cut off meat and add to soup in small pieces. Remove onion and bay leave.
I love that the recipe ends with: Serve with dark rye bread, buttered with sweet butter. “This is a complete meal.”
This dish smells and tastes like home to me. It got so thick and beautiful. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and the navy beans just melt with the barley… And that smoked ham hock seals the foodie deal. So much flavour.
If the flavour is not there, just keep adding salt. A generous amount of salt is 100% necessary when you make a soup and this dish makes a ton but remember, season at the end!
I was holding up quite well during the video. It was not until I started editing that I broke down.
I don’t care what anyone says, food is magic. I could feel my mom with me as I made it, directing me and shaking her head when I put in the cooked beans by accident. Grandma too, with her wooden spoon clucking her tongue at me, LOL. Some things never change.
Happy Birthday Mom.