Tennessee River Barge Soup
Life aboard a towboat, pushing the massive barges along the mighty rivers isn't for everyone. It's typically 30 days on board and 30 days off. The quarters are cramped, it can be rough work, and it has to be in your blood to survive. But for those who spend their days navigating America's waterways, it can be exciting with some of the most beautiful sunsets you would ever see. A cook is on board to prepare three meals a day for a crew that's always hungry. Imagine the cold air, as northerly winds whisp across the water, wrapping a chill around all in site. You would want a bowl of something like this to warm your bones. I just bet it's served up with a big wedge of cornbread.
1 pound dried small white beans2 quarts cold water
2 to 3 pounds smoked ham hocks
1 tablespoon ham base seasoning
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons bacon drippings
1 onion, chopped
Wash the beans and cover with cold water in a large stock pot or kettle. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and boil gently for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Do not drain. Add the ham hocks, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, and bay leaf. Return to the heat and simmer for approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.