Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ham and Cannellini Bean Soup

Oh how I love soup.  Even though it is summer, I just can't stay away from it!  Over the past few weeks, I have been slowly noticing how much money we spend at the grocery store.  The sad thing is that even though we eat most of what we buy, I am still throwing away so much food by the end of the week.  

This week, I made it my goal to make our meals based on what we had in our pantry.  I am happy to report that it has been a success and even better,  our pockets are significantly fatter by doing so.  The only thing I had to buy for this soup was the spiral ham bone, for $3.00.  I was also able to use up a bunch of vegetables that were just sitting in the fridge.    

This rustic soup is delicious and hearty.  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and make meals off it all week!  

The beans need to be soaked in water overnight or all day if you plan on making it in the evening.   

The ham bone really adds great flavor to the soup.  You could also use a regular or smoked ham hock.   

Strain the beans 

I used bok choy because I had it on hand.  You can also use spinach, kale, escarole or swiss chard.  

Ham and Cannellini Bean Soup
(makes about 10-12 servings)
1 1/2 cups dry cannellini beans, soaked for at least 8 hours (or 3 cups canned cannellini beans)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks with leaves on, chopped
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (or 3-4 fresh tomatoes, chopped)
1 spiral ham bone (or regular or smoked ham hock)
1 1/2 - 2 pounds ham, chopped into bite size cubes
2-3 cups roughly chopped greens (spinach, kale, escarole swiss chard, mustard greens etc.)
6 cups of chicken or beef stock
6 cups water
4 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Soak cannelinni beans for at least 8 hours.  Drain and set aside.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock put over medium-high heat.  Add chopped carrots, onion and celery and saute for 4-6 minutes.  Add tomatoes, ham bone, chopped ham, beans and cover with stock and water.  Add bay leaves and large pinches of both salt and pepper

Let soup cook uncovered over low heat for 2 hours. Before serving, remove ham bone and bay leaves.   Taste soup and add salt and pepper to taste.  The ham will lend a lot of saltiness to the soup so wait until the end to add more salt.

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