Ham and White Bean Soup with Kale

20140122-092248.jpgOne of my earliest memories of winter is walking off a curb, into a snow bank and finding myself surrounded by snow over my head. It seemed like such a magical thing, to be completely enveloped in soft, noise muffling snow. I may have been only 2 or 3 years old at the time, but that image of looking up and seeing nothing but snow and a peek of sky has stayed with me.

Friends, I am here to tell you that the magic of winter is gone for me. I am cold–are you cold? I am not the biggest fan of cold weather in the best of circumstances, but this winter has just been downright ridiculous. Since I can’t change the weather (I have tried), the best thing I can do is hunker down and eat cozy, warm, comfort foods. Like this soup. For me, winter soups need to be substantial, but also healthy. I like them hearty, with lots of delicious vegetables and either beans or pasta. This rustic white bean soup is easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of chopping or prep work. Easy, warm, nutritious and comforting. Just the thing to help me survive until spring!

I prefer cooking soup in a stock pot, but you can make this soup in a slow cooker by cooking on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours. Don’t skimp on the rosemary or garlic–they give this dish a lot of great flavor!

A note about the beans: This dish will taste even better if you use dried beans and dehydrate them overnight, but if you are in a hurry you can use canned cannellini beans instead and cut your cooking time to about 45 minutes.

Ham and White Bean Soup with Kale (makes 4 servings)

  • 4 cups (1 quart) organic chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups rehydrated organic white cannellini beans (about 2 cups dry) or 3 cans of organic white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 organic carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large handful of baby kale (or chopped regular greens)
  • 2 springs of fresh rosemary, stems removed and needles chopped
  • 1/2 cup smoked ham, prosciutto or side meat
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Night before (if using dried beans): Put the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with water plus about 2″. Cover and let sit overnight or for 7-8 hours.
  2. In a 10″ saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and saute for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. If using dried beans, drain the beans, discarding the soaking water.
  5. In a stock pot, add all the ingredients except kale, salt and pepper. Heat over medium low and simmer for 4-6 hours. Check every once and a while and if the soup is too thick, add additional stock or water.
  6. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Add the kale and simmer for another hour.
  7. Serve hot with crusty bread or a side salad.
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Sole-ful musings

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