Ham and Cannellini Bean Soup

If you live in a cold climate, then you probably already eat lots of soup in wintertime. If you haven’t ever made soup, give it a try! It’s one of the simplest meals to make, is very forgiving, and stores well. (See here for my vegetable soup recipe.)

For busy dancers, soup keeps well in the fridge (or freezer) and heats up in an instant. If you have trouble finding energy to prepare dinner on a regular basis, having a big container of soup in your fridge makes it a lot less time-consuming. Pair with a side salad or a piece of chicken for a complete meal, or with a piece of crusty bread for a snack before collapsing into bed.

I am a big fan of bean soups as they deliver protein in a non-animal way – most of us consume a lot of animal protein and not enough beans and legumes.

Soups are also a good platform for whole grains: rice, quinoa, or a more exotic grain like freekah, can all be dumped into a pot of boiling broth to give body and nutrients to your concoction.

I made a version of this recipe in the slow cooker* over the holiday break and froze half of it. It’s thawing for tonight as my answer to yet another rainy, grey, and raw day in NYC. The silky beans take on the smoky flavor of the ham hock and the result is a deeply satisfying, rich bowl of goodness. It’s a meal in itself.

  • Chicken broth (2 quarts)
  • one smoked ham hock
  • 3-4 cans cannellini beans
  • sliced red onion
  • herbs de provence, 2 teaspoons
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the sliced red onion in a little olive oil until soft. Add herbs de provence and stir till fragrant. Pour in chicken broth, beans and finally ham hock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the ham hock from the soup and pull off the meat. If you like ham, add the pieces back in to the soup. If not, discard.

Pour into a bowl and eat with a crusty piece of bread or a side salad.

*For the slow cooker version, use a 1-pound bag of dried cannellini beans that you’ve soaked overnight and 2 quarts chicken broth; toss everything in the slow cooker (no need to sautee anything) and put the cover on. Cook 6-8 hours on low heat. 

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