Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ham, Beans, and Garlic Mustard

Well, as mentioned in a previous blog, I found a little bit of garlic mustard when I was weeding yesterday. Since I don’t have any lettuce either in my fridge or my garden yet, I decided to cook it in some bean soup and see what I thought about it. I’ve never actually eaten it before except for the occasional leaf on the trail; I only learned about it last year on a wildflower walk with ECOS.

Incidentally, while scanning the internet for cooking instructions, I found out why their leaves have two different shapes: it seems the plant is biennial, and the rounder leaves appear in its first year. So it’s not necessarily a matter of it being “this time of year;” apparently the first-year plants don’t go into flower stalks at all. I also read somewhere along the line – I didn’t think to save the URL, drat the luck – that the things can re-establish themselves if you don’t destroy the roots – so don’t just harvest leaves and walk away! Yank that thing right out of the ground.

So, I had my worries about the ham soup, both because I’ve never cooked garlic mustard and because I remember from experience that I don’t like regular mustard greens (which is why I hid it in a bunch of soup ingredients). But it turned out to be pretty tasty!

Ham, Bean, and Garlic Mustard Soup

Ham bone
Olive oil
½ an onion, chopped
½ teaspoon minced garlic (or 1 clove, minced)
1 cup of dried beans (I had red and black beans from chili)
Bay leaf
Poultry seasoning
2 Tablespoons barley
½ pound fingerling potatoes
2 large carrots
Garlic mustard (I only had a ½ cup, but I think this soup could easily accommodate a full cup)

Soak the beans using your favorite method; I usually bring them to a boil and let them soak an hour or so, followed by a good rinse.

Boil the ham bone in plenty of water for a couple of hours. Remove the bone to cool and add the onion and garlic (I sauté in a bit of olive oil before adding) and beans. Put in a sprinkling of poultry seasoning and a bay leaf. Let boil till the beans are more or less done.

Add barley; let boil another ten minutes, and then add the potatoes and carrots. Boil another twenty minutes, then add the garlic mustard and stir until they leaves are just cooked – only a minute or two.


Apparently, you can cook garlic mustard greens just like regular mustard greens, so if you like those, you can substitute it in any recipe. Here are some recipe links:

Curried Mustard Greens with Kidney Beans
Mustard Greens
Mustard green recipes at
Mustard Greens from Simply Recipes
Braised Mustard Greens from Rachel Ray
Greens recipes Mustard Greens with Bacon


  1. The next time I have ham with a bone, I am SO trying this. Yum!


  2. Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised - I don't usually like cooked greens, but it was really good!

  3. I'll let you know how I feel about it tomorrow after lunch. I am daunted by the sound of the name garlic mustard, but I believe you when you say I'll like it.

  4. Oh, also on a completely unrelated note, when I read the bit about first-year plants, I couldn't help but think of Harry Potter; I'm sure it's because I'm reaing it to Fi.

  5. Good Soup!
    The garlic mustard was actually very mild, although I wasn't sure it would be when I took it out of the microwave. Ate a biscuit leftover from the weekend with it and it was a very delicious and easy lunch. I love having leftovers to spruce up lunch, which usually ends up being pbj and a piece of fruit in the absence of leftovers.

  6. Glad you liked. It's funny how I am with soup - I don't generally like soup, but yet soup can make things I don't generally like edible. Don't like mustard greens, don't like beans, but put 'em in soup - I'll eat it. Don't like white beans, don't like spinach (on its own), hadn't liked cous cous - put 'em in soup with some leeks, I'll eat a whole damned pot of it. I don't get it.