By Tiffany Haugen for Smokehouse Products
There are multiple ways to flavor the base of a rib and bean soup. A leftover holiday ham bone, purchased smoked ham hocks, or a savory stock from a wild or store-bought turkey are just a few favorites. But if looking for an economical way to add richness and smoke flavor, try smoking up a small batch of ribs and a generous amount of onions and garlic to begin a hearty bean soup. Have your butcher cut up ribs into small portions to make them easier to serve. St. Louis-style ribs are part of the spareribs and are usually fattier and more flavorful which will make a tastier broth, but any ribs can be substituted. Once a few of the ingredients are smoked, the rib and soup can be put together quickly and slow cooked in a crock pot, finished in an hour in a pressure cooker, or simmered over the stove for a few hours.
1 pound pre-cut St. Louis-style ribs
2 large onions
6 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 c dried beans
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 c chicken, beef or vegetable broth
10-ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies
4 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp fresh rosemary, optional
Salt & black pepper to taste
Smokehouse Wood Chips of choice
Soak dried beans in water 6- to 12 hours, changing water at least one time. Salt and pepper the ribs and let them sit at room temperature for 30- to 60 minutes. For more flavor, ribs can be seasoned with your favorite rub and refrigerated overnight.
Prepare Little Chief Smoker or Big Chief Smoker for smoking by filling smoker pans with chips of your choice. Place ribs on smoker racks leaving space between to allow for proper smoke flow. Smoke two hours before adding onions and garlic to the smoker.
Thickly slice onion into rounds and cut peeled garlic cloves in half. Place onions and garlic on Teflon screens atop smoker racks. Fill smoker pan with fresh chips and smoke an additional hour with ribs.
Remove ingredients from smoker. Chop smoked onions and garlic and set aside for cooking. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Brown ribs and set aside. Leave pan drippings in the pan and add smoked onions, smoked garlic, chopped carrot and celery, and sauté until onions begin to caramelize. Add Rotel diced tomatoes and chiles and sauté an additional five minutes.
Rinse beans and place in a slow cooker, pressure cooker or stock pot. Add ribs, sauteed vegetables, broth, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Stir to combine ingredients.
Slow cooker: Cook on high four- to six hours or until beans reach desired tenderness.
Pressure cooker or Instant Pot: Cook on high pressure 35- to 40 minutes, let pressure release naturally.
Stovetop: Bring soup to a boil then lower to a simmer, cooking one- to two hours or until beans reach desired tenderness.