At the first sign of frost, I like to get out my soup pot.
The other night I didn’t feel like another visit to the grocery store, so I thought I’d try to make a soup with whatever the pantry and refrigerator held. I always have onions and celery – they’re must haves in my refrigerator.
And, as it turned out, there were dried beans and chicken stock in the pantry, potatoes, garlic and fresh herbs from my garden, along with country ham, in the refrigerator.
This is easy and takes maybe a half hour to assemble and then an hour to cook. Should you want to use a slow cooker instead of your stovetop, instructions are included as well.
The soup is a hearty one that will warm you on cold autumn or winter days.
White bean soup
1 pound of dried white beans (Great Northern)
8 ounces of chopped country ham or pancetta
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 teaspoon of dried)
1 tablespoon of fresh sage, chopped (or 1 teaspoon of dried)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
3 medium red or white potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
6 cups of chicken stock
Place the beans in a large bowl and cover them by at least one inch of water. Let them soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Drain the beans and then rinse completely before cooking.
In a soup pot cook the ham until it’s crispy. Depending on how much fat is rendered add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, more if necessary but enough to cook the onions and celery until they’re translucent. Add the celery, and onion and cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Then add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Stir in all of the herbs and spices. Add the drained beans, the chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Once this is at a boil, reduce the temperature to simmer for one hour. Test for doneness by mashing a bean between two fingers. If it mashes easily the soup is ready. If the bean is tough, cook the soup a little longer.
Should you want to use a slow cooker, once the ham, celery, onions and garlic are done, transfer the mixture over to the slow cooker and then add the herbs, spices, beans, broth and potatoes. Cook for 8 hours on low or 4 to 6 hours on high.