After a long, hard day at work, it's a joy to come home to the intoxicating aroma of a soup that's been simmering on the stove all afternoon.

I love to cook, but I'll be the first to tell you that this "three times a day, seven days a week" thing never sat well with me. I did it for years, especially when my children were growing up and I was a stay-at-home mom, but once I started working full-time and the kids were older and then out of the house, cooking during the week was one of the first things to change.

When I began my career as a reporter, I had a lot of evening assignments. There were many times I would be home for less than an hour, before I was back in the car and on to the next story.

I wouldn't mind cooking or baking all day on a Saturday or Sunday, but having the time or the energy to cook more than the simplest meals during the week, was pretty rare.

Fortunately, I have a husband who also loves to cook, and he loves to experiment in the kitchen.

Sometimes he has hits, and sometimes he has misses. This ham and bean soup is his recipe, and it's a definite hit. It is also very budget friendly. Using the leftover ham bone from Christmas, all he had to buy was a bag of dried navy beans. We had everything else in the house.

This soup is hearty and filling, and thanks to the carrots, it has a little kiss of sweetness.

It really is delicious.

"What to do with that ham bone" Soup

Serves four

1 leftover ham bone with about 2 cups of meat on it

1 package dried navy beans (soak overnight according to package directions)

1 large onion, chopped

1-2 cups of carrots, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3-4 bay leaves

5-8 cups of water

In a large soup pot, boil the ham bone in five cups of water, until the meat separates from the bone. Strip meat from the bone and cut into small pieces.

Return to the pot and add remaining ingredients. Add more water if necessary.

Reduce heat and simmer for two to three hours, until beans are soft.

Remove bay leaves and serve with a nice crusty bread.

Check out Comfort & Joy every Wednesday in the TIMES NEWS. Past recipes are available online at http://www.tnonline.com/lifestyle/comfort-and-joy.