This hearty White Beans & Ham Soup is perfect for cold, blustery days – filled with rich, bold flavors and full of vegetables, ham and beans.
Yesterday was one of those cold, wet, blustery days. A perfect day to stay inside and cook something hearty and warm.
Drab. Drizzly. Bleck.
Fine by me! I didn’t plan to venture out into the craziness of black Friday crowds anyway ~ and it gave me a good excuse to hunker down and cook.
Ok, I have to confess. I did take one teeny, tiny small trip to Sur La Table. I needed something to brighten my mood, you know? A little somethin’ somethin’ to make me feel inspired.
It was definitely a good time for a little Sur La Table therapy.
A new baby cast iron skillet, a citrus zester and a cherry red Kuhn Rikon silicone balloon whisk later and I felt much, much better. Perfect! My mood improved dramatically…it must’ve been the red balloon part of the whisk that did it.
Now fully equipped with more stuff I didn’t need, I settled in for a perfectly suitable day to make some belly-warming, hearty and satisfying White Beans and Ham Soup!
Be sure that when you crush the fennel seeds in this recipe to take a deep whiff of their delicious licorice-y flavor. They smell amazing when crushed! To crush them, I typically put them in a ziploc bag and run my rolling pin over them a few times. Take that, fennel seed!
You definitely want to make the stock the night before, so that it can chill in the refrigerator and enable you to skim the fat before you make your final White Beans & Ham.
This recipe does take a few days to prepare, so be sure to get everything set in advance. Unless you want to take a few shortcuts…that’s okay too. What I think makes this recipe so special though, is the process of making it and the yummy goodness of the simmering result.
Perfect to pair with some chewy bread with a crisp golden brown crust. I can just taste it! Can’t you? I’m salivating just thinking about it and wished I would’ve doubled the recipe!
Hmmm…now that I come to think of it, I never did use one of my fancy new toys. I’m going to have to do something about that.
- 1½ cups dried Great Northern or other small white beans
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves
- 10 cups water
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 3 pounds ham shank (or ham hocks)
- 5 bay leaves
- 3 cups coarsely chopped leek greens
- 3-5 garlic cloves (to taste)
- 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
- 6 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped leek bottoms
- 1½ cups chopped onion
- 1 cup carrot, chopped
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
- Sort and wash the beans, place them in a large pot and cover them with water, roughly two inches above the beans. Cover, set aside and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain.
- Place all ingredients in a stock pot and simmer for 3 hours.
- Remove ham from stock and set aside. Strain stock through a fine strainer, reserving stock and discarding all solids.
- Cover and chill stock and ham separately for 8 hours or overnight.
- Remove ham from bones and chop or pull meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard all bones, skin, and fat. Skim and discard any fat from the surface of the stock. Reserve stock.
- Combine beans and 4-6 cups of reserved stock in a large pot. Add the chopped thyme, fennel seeds, marjoram, and sun-dried tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 1 hour and 30 minutes or until beans are tender.
- While the beans are simmering, heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the leek bottoms, chopped onion, chopped carrot, chopped celery, and 4 garlic cloves; cover. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vegetable mixture, ham, ground pepper, and salt to bean mixture and stir.
- Cook until heated through.
- Top with chopped fresh parsley and green onions before serving.
Recipe slightly modified from Cooking Light magazine Ham Hocks and White Beans recipe.
Post updated with new pictures and content 10/24/2014.