Monday, December 1, 2008

Ham and White Bean Soup

The hubby loves ham and bean soup. Now, I am not a huge fan of ham and bean soup. But I am a huge fan of the hubby, and a self-proclaimed Very Good Wife Indeed. And so ham and bean soup, we shall make.

Actually, this is a pretty easy and fast soup to throw together on a weeknight. It takes a bit of chopping, but this soup comes together in a half-hour or less (depending on when those pesky carrots cook). If you're not a fan of mushier beans, you might want to simmer the soup without them for about 20 minutes, because they’ll start to disintegrate before the carrots are cooked through. (The hubby mashes his soup all in a mess with crackers, so this isn’t a huge concern for us.) Also, when it comes to beans, to drain or not to drain? I find that the bean liquid helps thicken up the soup a bit, although I’m not wild about the flavor. My compromise is to drain the beans, but not rinse them.

This soup is also quite healthy; I found the original idea in Cooking Light. The soup likely will need some salt, but you probably want to hold off on the salt until the end. A good rule of thumb: Ham makes things salty. But the saltiness can vary a great deal, so it’s a guessing game until the soup is close to being done.

Ham and White Bean Soup
Serves 4

2 tsp. olive oil
1 c. ham, chopped
½ c. onion, finely chopped
¾ c. carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 14.5-oz. can chicken broth
2 15-oz cans cannellini or great northern beans, drained
1 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute ham for 2 minutes. Add onion, carrots, and garlic, and saute 3-4 minutes, or until vegetables start to sweat and soften. (Mmm … sweaty vegetables …)

2. Add bay leaf and broth. Stir in beans (unless you want to simmer the soup for a while, first.)

3. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat, and then cover and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Remove bay leaves and serve.

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