Aroma of Italy
The aroma of an Italian restaurant permeates the whole house while this supper soup simmers away. It is fresh and savory the first day but enjoy it the second day when the flavors meld into an even richer blend. January is National Soup month and what better time is there to have a hearty, one dish meal.
Recipe: Italian White Bean and Ham Soup
Prep Time: 20 Minutes, plus soaking the beans overnight | Cook Time: 2 1/2 Hours | Yield: 13 Cups | Level: Easy
- 1 16 oz pkg dried white beans, Navy or Great northern
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 cups diced onion
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 8 cups chicken broth, fat-free and low sodium
- 4 cups water
- 2 T chopped fresh parsley, or 2 t dried
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 2 smoked ham hocks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- salt and pepper
1 Sort and rinse beans then cover with water and let soak overnight.
2 Heat the oil in large pot over a medium fire. Add onion and cook until tender but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 1 minute while keeping the veggies in motion.
3 Next, except the salt and pepper, add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until beans are tender stirring occasionally. discard bay leaves and thyme twigs.
4 With a spider or slotted spoon lift out the ham hocks and cool long enough to handle without burning fingers. Pull meat from bones and dice or shred anything that doesn’t already fall apart.
5 Place 1 1/2 cups of beans in a blender, and whirl until smooth or put the beans in a bowl and have a go at it with an immersion blender. Then swirl the creamy puree back into pot along with ham to thicken soup. Salt and pepper to taste.
Quicker Beans – If you forgot to put the beans on to soak the night before you can speed this soup 3 different ways. 1) Cook the beans for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour. 2) Use lentils adding them dry after the onions and garlic are cooked with the other ingredients. They don’t need to be soaked and cook rather fast. 3) use three 15 oz cans of rinsed beans and substitute diced for ham hocks. Cook for only 20-30 minutes to marry flavors.
- Exchange ham hocks for a ham bone left over from your holiday ham dinner.
- Exchange navy or great northern for cannellini beans.
- Using a very large pot, double the recipe and ladle the extra soup in quart freezer zipper pouches or containers and squirrel away in the deep freeze for busy days.
Cook with Sauces
Written: by Helen Horton
Photographs: by Helen Horton
Updated: April 3, 2012