I love making soups because you can really make it your own. I love a soup chuck full of wonderful fresh ingredients and protein (meats). And this one, Ham and Bean Soup is another comforting feel good soup any time but especially when it’s a cold or cool day. I think its better if you use left over ham, Bone in Ham or Ham Hocks for this soup. There is so much more flavor if you do. However, if you don’t have this type of ham, using just sliced ham from the meat market works well too. I often add a little smoked paprika to give it that rustic and hint of smoky flavor. Using bone-in or ham hocks may take a little longer to cook to blend all of the flavors together but it’s well worth it. I use white beans, whatever kind I have in my pantry. I add spinach or kale because it adds a little green, softness, bright color and is a nice addition.
2-3 Smoked Ham Hocks or 1 Bone-in Ham
or 6-8 thick slices of Ham plus 3 strips of cooked chopped bacon
2 cans of White Beans (Cannellini, Great Northern, Navy or any other you preferred)
or 1 pound of dried white beans soaked overnight in cold water
2 Tbls of Olive Oil
3 Carrots peeled and chopped into bit size pieces
½ Sweet Onion chopped into bit size pieces
3 Celery Stalks chopped into bit size pieces
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and minced
Small bunch of Thyme or 1 Tbls Dried Thyme
½ Tbls dried Oregano
½ tsp Cumin
½ tsp Smoked Paprika (if desired and if you’re not using Ham Hocks or Bone-in Ham)
6 cups of good Chicken Broth or other preferred Broth
A large bunch of Spinach or chopped Kale (removed from stem)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan Cheese
In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and add in carrots, onions and celery and cook til just heated through but not fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Stir. Add ham, garlic and cook additional 3 minutes on medium low heat and stir. Add beans, herbs and spices and broth and mix all the ingredients together and continue to cook on medium to low heat.
Cook soup for about 1 to 1 ½ hour til vegetables and beans are tender but not mushy and meat falls apart. Remove bone and any other fat, skin or other pieces. Or remove ham bone and when cool to the touch pull meat apart from bone into cut
into bit size pieces. Add ham back into the pot and cook for another 10 minutes til heated through. Add in spinach or Kale and cook til heated through. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Ladle soup in bowls and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top if desire. Serve with good
Gather around the table and Enjoy!
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