A few weeks ago, my wife had made a run to the other side of the state to deliver a car load of Girl Scout Cookies to my family over there. While having lunch at my dads house she ate what she called the Best Bowl of Ham and Bean Soup she had ever had.
After some complimenting and buttering up, she asked my dad what his secret was, because her attempts at bean soup had not been as good as his. He said his first trick was sauteing the vegetables before he put them in...gave them some color and texture, while bringing out some more flavor(my wife did this with some carrots and peppers for a Rosemary White Bean Soup she made after talking to my dad...it DID make a difference).
His other secret ingredient was ham concentrate.
Yup...in addition to real ham pieces, and the ham bone, he put fake ham into the soup. He said it just brought out more ham flavor...and my wife swore that it added to the 'mouth feel' too.
I just couldn't believe what she was telling me...how could my dad have not given me this secret ingredient before? Aren't fathers supposed to pass this kind of thing down to their sons?
I spent the better part of the last week hunting for this stuff in our local grocery stores. My dad said he got his at Trader Joe's. Our nearest Trader Joe's is over two hours away, so after having no local success, I broke down and ordered some on Amazon a few days ago, since I was on their getting a dehydrator for my wife's birthday.
It showed up today, and hopefully I can have a review of its effectiveness sometime in the next week. Summer is on its way, which means to my mind, the time frame for a hot bowl of soup is rapidly expiring. If we don't use some soon, it might be October before I have a good feel for how good it works.