This morning, I told Milady that I wanted to make a bean soup tonight. Then, I left for the deer lease, forgetting to soak my beans. No problem. I stopped at the grocery store and bought canned beans, and my soup is simmering on the stove for tonight's meal.
1 lb dry white beans (Great Northerns, Navy Beans, White Limas, Butter Beans, it doesn't matter) Or 4 cans of white beans.
4 white potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes.
1 cup ham, chopped.
On the way back from the hunting lease, I stopped at the grocers and picked up some canned beans. (These were Sure-Fine Butter beans, but you can use something else.) Then, at home, I opened the cans and dumped them in a large pot. Peeled four medium white potatoes, then cut them into 1/4 inch cubes. Added those to the pot. Then, I took out the leftover Christmas ham, cubed that also, about a cup in the mix. Added a little salt and pepper, added enough water to cover it, then got it simmering. I'll stir it occasionally until supper, keeping it at a slow simmer and making sure that it doesn't boil dry. Add water as necessary.
This is an old recipe, something that a cook could put together for very little money and feed a crowd of kids. Beans are cheap, as are potatoes. If you were using dry beans, you'd want to put them on to soak early in the morning, then cook most of the afternoon. Using canned beans, I cheated. That little bit of meat is there for flavor. If a down-home cook didn't have any ham, they might have used salt pork, tasso, thin sliced sausage, or a ham hock.
What you want is for the potatoes to cook almost to pieces, and the beans to almost fall apart.
Serve with saltine crackers and iced tea. It's an old favorite for a cold winter's night. And very, very frugal. I bet that I don't have $5.00 in that pot, and I could feed eight or ten people.