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Ham and White Bean Soup

Berkshire Kitchen

Ham and White Bean Soup

by JANE WORTHINGTON-ROTH

If you find yourself facing leftover ham after Easter dinner, why not transform some of it into a delicious ham and white bean soup? There are many different white beans to choose from, all delivering a meal that’s high in fiber and protein. In my cellar pantry I have an entire shelf dedicated to beans, both canned and dried. I prefer Goya brand canned beans and sometimes buy a bunch at once to stock up the pantry. Once when purchasing dozens of cans of Goya beans at our local Stop and Shop, all the register coupons printed out in Spanish – the computer must have assumed that I was Hispanic just because I was buying so many Goya beans! (Fact check: I am blonde, 100% pure Polish descent.)

Although there are many white beans that would work well, for the ham and white bean soup I prefer plain and simple Goya Small White Beans (Habichuelas Blancas). I like their delicate size and the fact that they hold their shape well in the broth. Feel free to substitute your favorites or whatever white beans you have on hand. Here are some other options.

Navy Beans (also called Pea Beans) are small, mild flavored beans that get a creamy consistency when cooked. They are the perfect choice if you want a thick soup as you can mash them against the side of the pot for extra creaminess. Navy Beans are most commonly used in recipes for Boston Baked Beans.

Great Northern Beans are firm, medium-sized with a mild, nutty flavor. They hold their shape in soups and absorb the flavors. Great Northern Beans are commonly used to make French Cassoulets in instances where you can’t purchase authentic French beans.

Cannellini Beans (Alubias) are one of my favorites. I always have cans on hand to make White Beans & Rosemary as a side dish with grilled lamb. Cannellini, often referred to as White Kidney Beans, are large beans that retain their shape well in soups.

Butter Beans (Habas Grandas) also make a quick and easy side salad. Drain and rinse the canned butter beans and toss them with some sautéed peppers, onions and a dash of vinaigrette dressing. Perfect for summertime picnics or potluck dinners.

HAM AND WHITE BEAN SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup each: finely chopped onion, carrots and celery
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
6 cups chicken broth
3 cans (15.5 oz.) Goya Small White Beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked ham, chopped
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
Liquid Smoke and/or Tabasco, optional

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots and celery and sauté until softened - about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is soft, but not browned.

Add the stock, beans, ham and herbes de Provence and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, partially covered.

You can leave the beans whole or partially purée the soup with an immersion blender to add some creaminess. Be careful not to splash the hot soup while blending.

Because we are using a cooked ham rather than smoky ham hocks in this recipe, I like to add a dash of Liquid Smoke or Tabasco to enhance the flavor. Since the ham is already salty I don’t add additional salt to the soup but you might want to add some freshly ground pepper before serving.

This recipe is extremely adaptable – add more ham, beans, stock or vegetables if you prefer. If you don’t have any herbes de Provence on hand, just add 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.



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