Grandpa Fey’s bean soup

On a hot summer day many years ago, we bellied up to the counter at Wilson’s Ice Cream Parlor in Door County, Wisconsin.
With its candy-striped awnings shading windows that look out over pristine Eagle Harbor, Wilson’s could be the poster parlor for summer vacation.
We watched as our grandpa, the dignified Bob Fey, placed his order.
“Hot fudge sundae?” we wondered, as Wilson’s served them famously, hand-dipped beauties dripping in fudge and whipped cream and served in old school crystal bowls. “Root Beer Float?” we guessed, a frosty mugged, homemade refreshment on a hot summer day.
But Grandpa Fey was nothing if not consistent.
“Bean soup,” he ordered.
Bean soup? On a hot day in July? Really?
Even the waitress seemed startled, but she obediently brought his steaming bowl of soup.
I thought of him earlier this week when I made a pot of bean soup. Sadly, the wind whipping off the giant mounds of dirty snow made it a perfect day for a thick bowl of bean soup.
But, thanks to Grandpa Fey, visions of a Door County summer cheered us as we scooped up our soup.
We can’t wait.

Grandpa Fey’s Bean Soup

1 ham bone (usually leftover from the pervious day’s ham dinner) Hopefully, with plenty of ham.
1 lb. dry navy beans
Seven cups water
1 can beef broth
1 small onion chopped
1 cup carrots chopped
2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
One can stewed diced tomatoes.

Place beans in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn off the burner and let sit for one hour. Add the rest of the ingredients, turn up the heat and allow to cook for several hours. Don’t let the soup boil, or the beans will burst. I covered the soup, turned it on low, and went to work.
When I returned, I scooped out the ham bone, cut the remaining ham into bite sized pieces and returned it to the pot.
Serve warm with a green salad and a good hunk of bread.

Wilsons Ice Cream Parlor
Wilson’s Ice Cream Parlor is a perfect stop after a bike ride through Peninsula State Park.
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Here are my ingredients for bean soup. After big holiday meals I always ask if I can take home the ham bone. At first they looked at me a little strangely, but now they wrap it up and hand it over without me even having to ask.
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You can either soak the beans overnight, or boil them and let them sit for an hour.
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Chop your vegetables to a consistent size
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You can dump everything into a big pot and let is simmer all day. This soup makes the whole house smell delicious.
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Here it is, not so perfect on a hot summer day in a famous ice cream parlor, but a really nice dinner on a cold spring night.
The butcher botched the turkey and made a delicious memory
And here’s my Grandpa Fey during Thanksgiving, just before the millennium with Molly. He had a great sense of fun and a well protected set of taste buds.

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