Bean Soup & Corn Bread

It doesn’t get much more Amer­ic­an than fresh baked corn­bread.

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.  


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

2 eggs

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 Whats­cook­in­ or in care of the North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053)

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