The cold weather months are the perfect time for a rich bowl of well-seasoned soup. Frigid temperatures make us all feel a little sluggish and inclined to hibernate. Herbs such as winter savory can perk up your taste buds and get you going despite the chill.
Winter savory (Satureja montana) is a hardy, low-growing perennial herb. Its dark green leaves grow thickly on branches that spread about two feet. Small white to pink flowers appear in late summer and are much enjoyed by passing bees. Winter savory grows best with regular watering but can withstand an occasional drought. Plant this herb where it can receive at least half a day of full sun.
Winter savory has a close relative known as � you guessed it � summer savory (Satureja hortensis). This is a tender annual that grows about twice as tall and half as dense as winter savory but with a similar flavor. When purchasing, check the botanical name to be sure you get the one you want.
Both types of savory are excellent when added to soups with beans. In fact, some people call savory �the bean herb� not only for its pungent flavor but its reputed ability to curb flatulence. Summer savory is best used fresh so at this time of year reach for the winter savory. It has a somewhat peppery flavor so go easy when you first use it. Here�s a variation on Congressional Bean Soup that includes winter savory.
Rinse and drain the beans and set aside. Clean and slice the celery. Peel and dice the onion. Place a soup pot over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the celery and onion and stir until the onion becomes limp. Add beans and 2 cups of water. While this is coming to a boil dice the ham. Once the bean soup has started to boil, add the ham and seasoning. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook about 20 minutes more.