White Bean Soup with Ham and Leek
There are as few things as satisfying on a cold wintry day as a white bean soup. The creamy texture seems to almost wrap you in a blanket of goodness. Incredibly hearty and yet light at the same time, the mild flavors mingle to create a bowl of pure delight. This simple recipe uses leeks, shallots, and garlic to add a deep, rich flavor, that will warm you to your toes.
- 1 pound Great Northern beans, soaked overnight
- 1 quart of chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium sized leek, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 12-14 ounce cooks ham steak, cubed
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- salt and pepper to taste
Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak the beans for at least 8 hours (Beans will expand as they rehydrate so be sure to use a large container with plenty of water. Also do not add any salt to beans as they soak, it will make them chewy)
Drain the beans and place them in a stock pot with the chicken stock and bay leaves (again do not add any salt to the beans). Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
Prepare your leek by thoroughly washing.
Thinly slice the halved leek. Finely dice the shallot and garlic. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Lightly sauté the leek, shallot, and garlic until tender. Add to the pot of cooking beans. Add the diced ham and continue to simmer.
Test the beans by squashing one between your fingers. When the beans are mostly done, add the carrot (I like to add these towards the end of the cooking time to keep them from disappearing).
Thin the beans with additional stock if needed. Taste the soup and season accordingly with salt and pepper. (Remember when adding salt to a soup, only add a small amount at a time, allow the salt a few minutes to work its way through the soup before tasting again).
This soup can easily be prepared as a vegetarian dish by omitting the ham and using vegetable stock.
I think cornbread is the perfect side dish for this dish. Toss a few of the sliced shallots with a small amount of olive oil. Place on the center of your cornbread before baking for an added treat.