Fall temperatures have finally arrived here in New England, and for me that signals the beginning of soup season. My Pork and Bean Soup is so rich and thick, just what we need to take away that first autumn chill. This soup is gluten free, nutritious, and full of fiber, which is often sadly lacking in the gluten free diet.
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Fully cooked pork shanks make a wonderful soup base that is surprisingly low in fat. I buy the Wellshire Farms brand, which is uncured (no nitrites) and gluten free. They have a handy database on their website to identify gluten and other allergens in their products.
Friends, don’t shy away from cooking with beans. Once you know how, you will have tender flavorful beans every time! Making your own means you control the ingredients, including salt content.
Here are some tips. Always soak beans overnight, don’t take shortcuts. Rinse the beans before soaking, and change the water again before cooking. Always start with cold water and plan on 3+ hours cook time at a very low simmer. Do not add salt until the last hour of cooking.
- 1 lb. dry beans such as great northern, navy, pinto or a mixture. Use your favorites!
- 1 fully cooked, uncured ham/pork shank (also called ham hocks)
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1/2 sweet onion
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. sage
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-1/4 cup gluten free soup pasta (I used Le Veneziane Ditalini)
The night before, rinse the beans well and place them in a stock pot or Dutch oven with cold water. Cover and soak overnight. The beans will more than double in size. After the soak, drain and rinse the beans again. Clean the stockpot to remove any residue.
Place the rinsed beans back in the stockpot and fill with cold water. Do not add salt. Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours.
Chop the carrots, celery and onion into 1/2″ dice. Cook the veggies in 1 tbsp. olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Drain and rinse the beans one more time, then add them to a larger stockpot along with the veggies and the pork shank. Fill to within 2” from the top with water, about 6 cups. Here is where you add the salt, along with the sage, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer on low one hour more.
If using gluten free pasta, cook according to package directions. Transfer the pork shank to a cutting board and chop or shred the meat into small pieces.
Remove the bay leaf and discard, then partially puree the beans and vegetables with an immersion blender. Don’t skip this step, it gives the soup a nice thick consistency. If you don’t have a stick blender, you can carefully transfer a few scoops of the soup to a regular blender, puree and return to the pot. Be very careful not to splash the hot soup!
Lastly, stir in the cooked pasta and shredded pork. Taste and add more salt if needed. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
Spoon the soup into shallow bowls and enjoy with gluten free rolls for a hearty lunch. It really is substantial enough to be a main course!
Like most soups, this one is even better (and thicker) the next day. We love this kind of meal throughout the fall and winter months. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the recipe. I hope you will give my Facebook page a like so that you will continue to see more great meals like this one, made right here in My Gluten Free Cucina!
Notes: ♪♫ I love using a combination of different beans in my soups but avoid the popular mixes like the 16-bean blend. Many contain barley, and even if not, it may be difficult to tell if a stray grain of barley made its way into the mix. Bottom line, I just don’t trust the sorting process. It’s easier to visually inspect the contents of single bean packages. You can buy several kinds and make your own mixed bean blend. For soup pasta, I like Le Veneziane gluten free ditalini. If you can’t find it in store, it is available online.