Dear SOS: I recently was in Aspen, Colo., on a trip through the Rocky Mountains. The ham and bean soup at the Creperie du Village was wonderful. Is there any way you might be able to get the recipe?
Dear Barry: Ham and beans are a classic combination, and this soup doesn't disappoint in the slightest. Great Northern beans are gently cooked with aromatic vegetables and herbs to creamy tenderness, with chopped bacon and ham folded in toward the end. Creperie du Village was happy to share its recipe for this hearty dish, which we've adapted below.
Total time: 1½ hours, plus overnight soaking time for the beans
Servings: 8 to 16
Note: Adapted from chef Jason DeBacker of Creperie du Village in Aspen, Colo.
1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
6 ribs celery, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
7 cloves garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons herbes de Provence (sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil and tarragon)
3 bay leaves
1 pound bacon, chopped
1 pound ham, diced
Salt and pepper
1. The day before making the soup, place the beans in a nonreactive pot with enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Soak the beans overnight.
2. The next day, add the onion, celery, tomatoes, garlic, herbes de Provence and bay leaves to the pot with the beans and soaking liquid (add additional water as needed to keep the beans submerged). Simmer the soup until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding additional water, if needed, to keep the beans submerged.
3. While the soup is cooking, render the bacon in a separate pot until crisp. Stir in the diced ham and remove from heat.
4. When the beans are tender, stir in the bacon and ham, along with the rendered bacon fat. Add additional water if desired to thin, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste. This makes a generous 4 quarts soup.