BYÂ EMMA HABERMAN
Aaah, the holidays wind down – a sea of wrapping paper, pine needles and leftover meats. Our resolution to recycle, tidy up and keep a clean fridge doesn’t have to wait until the New Year; it can begin today with a holiday leftover cleanup. Not only can a leftover ham produce delicious sandwiches, it can also amplify the flavor of a hearty white bean soup.
Cannellini beans, better known as white beans, are high in protein and dietary fiber but sweet and mild in flavor, making them a popular soup and salad ingredient. When simmered with a leftover meaty ham bone, they take on an earthy, smokey flavor with gentle hints of sage. I used a ham that had been slathered in a honey-based glaze, which nicely balanced the meat’s natural saltiness. Ham releases lots of salt when cooked, so make sure to taste your soup before adding any additional salt. If the sodium is too overwhelming, adding a potato will help add starchiness and highlight the cannellinis’ flavor – it’s also a good thickening agent for thin soups.
This soup is even better the next day, and delicious served with toasted baguette topped with spicy roasted red peppers.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 large or 3 small carrots, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 meaty ham bone
3 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
5 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
Freshly ground pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, potato, garlic and ham bone and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add the cannellini beans, broth and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are very tender.
- Remove the pan from the heat and remove the ham bone. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Stir in pepper to taste and salt, if needed.
- Remove any edible ham from the bone. Serve soup with ham and sage leaves.
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Photos: Emma Haberman
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