For many years, Nov. 11 was a holiday for me. It meant no reveille that morning. It meant a day without fighting my way through traffic formations. It meant no maneuvering to try to find a seat on the express train to town. It was a day to desist from the duties of the day’s regimented drills. Clearly, I wasn’t AWOL. I was just on a day’s leave, thanks to the veterans. I always appreciated that day.
Since then, I have been promoted to the rank of Mess Sergeant, and have performed various and sundry other additional duties along life’s way. No longer “off” on any day, basic training instructed me to keep the cupboards stocked in case of an attack of the “hungries,” which can hit any member of the family at any hour of the day or night.
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day. It began as a remembrance of the end of World War I, which occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. After World War II, the name of the day was changed to honor all veterans.
“Submariners ate the best,” reported my Navy Vet cousin, “They had the best chow.” That was good to hear. I always associated the Navy with bean soup, and recently I found a recipe from the General Mess Manual Cookbook - U.S. Navy, dated 1902. The recipe fed 100. These cooks knew beans were a good choice. Beans are inexpensive and a very good source of protein and fiber. After carving a ham (save the bone), I use the bone to make this bean, or lentil, or pea soup. A ham bone freezes well so that it can be used for soup at a later time.
The following recipe is one I use for bean soup. It doesn’t feed 100, but you will have leftovers. It provides both warmth and nourishment against Old Man Winter’s forces of cold winds, sleet and snow. Crusty bread or warm corn bread goes well with this soup.
UNCLE JOHN’S BEAN SOUP
1½ lb. dried beans (I use 1 lb. mixed beans and ½ lb. split peas or lentils)
1 ham bone or 2 ham hocks
1 very large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped (include leaves)
2 Tbsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and split in half
4 Tbsp. fresh parsley (or 2 Tbsp. dried) minced
1 can tomatoes (28 oz.)
2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
-Fill a large soup pot with 3½-4 quarts water.
-Add ham bone (or hocks) to pot, bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
-Rinse beans thoroughly. Cover them with plenty of water in a pot, bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.
-Add drained beans to large pot containing ham bone and simmering water.
-Add remaining ingredients, except potatoes, and continue to simmer about 1 hour.
-Add potatoes and continue to simmer until beans are soft and soup is done.
-Remove ham bone and scrape meat remaining on bone into small bits and pieces. Return to soup.
-Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
The following corn muffins make a good dinner companion with bean soup. The proteins in the beans and the corn complement and complete each other. And they taste good, too.
1 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup milk
¼ cup melted butter or 3 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. honey
-Stir together flour with sugar, baking powder and salt.
-Stir in corn meal.
-Add eggs, milk, butter (or oil) and honey.
-Beat or whisk just until smooth. (Do not overbeat)
-Pour into a greased 9”x9”x2”pan.
-Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
On this Veterans Day, thanks and honors to all vets — to all who served, to all who gave their ultimate. Hats off to our vets who gave us our country to keep … bless you!
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053)