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Ham and Bean Soup

Classic Ham and Bean Soup Recipe

Ham and bean soup is a comforting and hearty dish that’s perfect for using up leftover ham. This recipe combines tender ham, white beans, vegetables, and flavorful herbs to create a delicious and satisfying soup. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy the flavors of a traditional ham dinner in soup form.

Ingredients:

For the Soup:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried white beans (Great Northern or navy beans), soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked ham, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For Garnish (optional):

  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Crusty bread or rolls

Instructions:

1. Prepare the Beans:

  • Rinse the dried white beans and pick out any debris or damaged beans.
  • Place the beans in a large bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak overnight. Drain and rinse the beans before using.

2. Sauté the Vegetables:

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.

3. Add Garlic and Herbs:

  • Stir in the minced garlic, bay leaves, dried thyme, and dried rosemary. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

4. Add Beans and Ham:

  • Add the soaked and drained white beans and diced ham to the pot. Mix everything together.

5. Pour in Broth:

  • Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth, ensuring that the beans and ham are covered with liquid.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil.

6. Simmer:

  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally.

7. Season:

  • Once the beans are tender, season the soup with salt and black pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves.

8. Serve:

  • Ladle the ham and bean soup into bowls.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
  • Serve with crusty bread or rolls for a complete meal.

Tips:

  • If you don’t have dried beans or are short on time, you can use canned white beans. Simply rinse and drain them, then add them to the soup during the last 15-20 minutes of simmering.
  • Customize your ham and bean soup with additional vegetables like chopped spinach, kale, or diced tomatoes.
  • Leftover ham from a holiday meal works wonderfully in this soup, but you can also use ham steaks or ham hocks for a smoky flavor.

Variations:

  • For a creamier texture, blend a portion of the soup with an immersion blender or in a regular blender, then return it to the pot before serving.
  • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a hint of spice or a splash of vinegar for a touch of acidity.
  • Experiment with different herbs and seasonings like smoked paprika or cumin to change up the flavor profile of your soup.

Cook’s Notes:

  • This soup is even better the next day as the flavors meld together, so it’s a great make-ahead option.
  • If you prefer a thicker soup, you can mash some of the cooked beans against the side of the pot with a spoon or use an immersion blender to blend a portion of the soup. This will create a creamier texture.
  • Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste. Remember that ham is naturally salty, so be cautious with the amount of added salt.
  • Feel free to add more vegetables like diced potatoes, green beans, or bell peppers for extra flavor and nutrition.
  • To store leftover soup, let it cool completely and transfer it to an airtight container. It can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days or frozen for longer storage.
  • If you’re using canned beans, reduce the simmering time to about 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Enjoy your homemade ham and bean soup with your loved ones. It’s a hearty, flavorful dish that’s perfect for warming up on a chilly day.

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