1. Cover chick peas with water by three inches and soak them at room temperature 8–16 hours. Drain and rinse.
2. Heat olive oil or butter in a large, heavy pot over medium flame. Add onions, carrots and garlic and sauté them, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften, 8–10 minutes. Add stock, ham bone and chick peas and bring to simmer, occasionally skimming off the froth that forms at the top. Partially cover the pot and adjust heat so that the soup simmers very slowly. Cook it about 1 hour, or until the meat is very tender.
3. Remove ham bone, cool it slightly, cut off the meat, chop and reserve it. Return bone to soup pot along with cumin and oregano and continue to simmer until beans are fully tender, another hour or so.
4. Stir in reserved ham and salt and pepper to taste. Add orzo; simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot, with Parmesan sprinkled over each bowl, if desired.
* Use the meaty bone leftover from an Organic Prairie Hardwood Smoked Bone-In Spiral Sliced Half Ham.
Copyright by Terese Allen