Oh, our goodness! (There are just times when the royal we is hard to pull off. This is one of those times.) As much as we like ham, we occasionally think that split pea soup is the reason you cook a ham. And it certainly doesn't matter if your ham was conveniently sliced before you bought it or if you did the slicing. A ham bone is a ham bone. If a bit of meat is clinging to it, so much the better.

A ham bone is intrinsic to a broad category of soups, stews, and casseroles, including many recipes for Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup), Red Beans and Rice, Black Bean Soup, versions of lentil soup, various other bean dishes, and various Southern dishes (especially green beans). Clearly the combination of beans and ham bones transcends cultures and geography. In many recipes, a couple of ham hocks can stand in for a ham bone.

you will see from one of the related recipes, soup made with a ham bone is prepared every day for the U.S. Senate dining room, which, we assume, is the only thing that has any hope of holding that institution together.

Here are a few recipes that may make you wish you had greater access to ham bones: