White Bean Soup with Ham


This soup all started with the biggest white beans I’ve ever seen in my life. After doing some internet research, I don’t think they’re as big as the ones they eat in Greece, but they’re about an inch long before they’re cooked and, since I’d never seen dried beans like this before, I was a little intimidated.

Soup seemed like a natural choice, but I wasn’t sure what else I wanted to put in it. I read recently about “the holy trinity” of Cajun cooking – bell pepper, onion, and celery, and thought that would be a good place to start, but I thought it would be missing something if I didn’t put some carrots in there too. So I did. And some ham, because you don’t need much to add lots and lots of flavor. Finally, I decided some cabbage might be nice, because I just happen to always have some in my fridge (so I can whip up my new obsession at a moment’s notice).

If you’re like I was up until about 2 months ago, the thought of cooking your own dry beans seems like a complete waste of time since you can get them so easily and cheaply in a can (in most parts of the world). That is a completely valid point and I’m sure canned white beans would be fine here, and if you can’t find the giant beans I used, don’t worry.

With fall weather coming and the need for a steaming bowl of soup becoming stronger by the day, this is a great recipe to turn to. I’m hoping that by making excessive quantities of soup, the Seoul weather gods will get the hint and it will start feeling cooler. I feel like everywhere in the world has made the transition, but it still feels like summer here!

A note about seasoning – for a long time I was really afraid of adding too much salt, so I made pot after pot of bland, flat-tasting soup. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to trust your taste buds, and just add a pinch at a time, stirring in between, until it tastes good to you.

1 tbsp butter
1 carrot
1 green bell pepper, stem, seeds and veins removed
1 rib celery
1/2 medium yellow onion
1/4 lb ham, cut in 1/4″ dice
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
2 cups cooked white beans
6 cups water or broth

Cut the carrot, bell pepper, celery, and onion into 1/4″ dice.
Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium, and add the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Add the ham and cook a few minutes more.
Add the cabbage, beans and water and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes. Add additional broth or water if it looks like a lot has evaporated.
Taste and add salt and pepper – the amount you need will depend on the saltiness of the ham and whether you’re using broth or water.

4 Responses to “White Bean Soup with Ham”

  1. 1 Eralda October 1, 2009 at 4:59 am

    I love love love cabbage in soups, and beans, and ham. What a delicious combination. It looks so comforting – perfect for fall.

  2. 2 Biz October 1, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Love the idea of this soup! I too was salt challenged for the longest time, and usually have my husband taste everyting, and almost always, the first words out of his mouth is “needs more salt!”

    Thanks for sharing – soup is good anytime of year!

  3. 3 Kate October 5, 2009 at 4:26 am

    Perfect for fall weather! I love the punch of color the carrots add.

  4. 4 Katerina October 5, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Totally agree on the salt, you need more then you think! Plus unless you are on a salt restricted diet you don’t really need to worry about adding salt when you are cooking. Its the processed food that is the problem.

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