Pork and beans come together in cultures across the world, but in this ham hock soup, distinctly Southern butter beans and the South’s revered pig merge dreamily together in decidedly Southern elegance that costs only pennies to make.
Adapted from "Southern Farmers Market Cookbook" by Holly Herrick.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. About 4 minutes later, add the ham hock, coat with the butter, and cook 3 minutes more.
Add the butter beans, vermouth, stock, red pepper flakes, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer over low heat, and cook until the beans are very soft and the soup has reduced, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
To finish the soup, remove the ham hock and set aside until cool enough to handle. Trim off the exterior layer of fat and cut out any shards of smoked meat, discarding the fat. Cut the ham into a small, uniform dice and set aside. Meanwhile, puree the soup in a food processor or blender until frothy and smooth.
Return the soup to the cooking pot and add the reserved ham. Bring to a simmer over high heat and then reduce heat to simmer.
Finish with the half-and-half and fresh parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately and top with a dusting of green onions.
Note: This soup can be made ahead of time, minus the half-and-half, and refrigerated for a day or two or frozen for a few months. Reheat and finish with half-and-half, seasonings as needed, and garnish to serve.