This white bean and ham soup is so flavorful and comforting, and yet somehow tastes light at the same time? Maybe it's the white beans and the kale that balance out the richness of the ham. Whatever the reason, I just know that I feel so nourished after I finish eating this soup.
For this recipe, I was feeling something easy, yet rustic and delicious. So we're using all the shortcuts here: leftover ham, canned cannellini beans, and store-bough chicken broth. Of course, if you want to make the chicken broth from scratch, that would only make this soup better! In this version, the whole thing comes together in less than half an hour.
This is one of these recipes that you can customize and make your own. For example, feel free to swap the out the kale for any green you'd prefer. Think: spinach, cabbage, or even celery. For the beans, you could totally use potatoes or gnocchi instead. Just make sure you pay attention to what you're using, and how those cooking times might differ from the original recipe. If you're using leftover ham, try this crockpot ham recipe!
Here's what we're using:
- White beans
- Chicken stock
- Baby kale
- Crostini garnish
How to Make the Soup
The process for making this soup really couldn't be easier. It all comes together in less than half an hour. However, the best way to make this is using leftover ham, so make sure you have some kicking around (I often freeze my leftovers and then whip them out when I want to make this).
First, we're going to heat up some olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large saucepan. Then, we add our aromatics, in this case, the shallot, garlic and thyme. I add the entire sprig of thyme. While it's cooking, the leaves fall off, and you can just remove the stems at the end. Same with the garlic cloves, I didn't bother chopping them. We'll just let them season everything and them fish them out later!
Sauté until the shallots are translucent. We don't want them to brown, but if they do a bit, that's ok.
Next, add the ham and the beans. Cook until heated through.
After this, you're going to add your chicken stock, and bring everything to a boil. Turn down the heat to a low simmer, and cover, cooking for 25 minutes.
After that, add the baby kale, parmesan, and season with salt and pepper.
And that's it! Garnish with some toasted crostini, and you're good to go. If you want to follow along with me, check out this video:
What to Serve with White Bean and Ham Soup
Listen, I'm a pretty big proponent of soup and salad or soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. So here's a few ideas of things that fit those to categories.
- Triple Decker French Onion Grilled Cheese
- Smoked Gouda and Saskatoon Berry Grilled Cheese
- Homemade Caesar Salad
- Zucchini Salad with Mint and Pistachios
- Easy Roasted Potato Salad
Tips and Tricks
- For more ham flavor, if you have a leftover ham bone, let it simmer in the stock with the rest of the ingredients!
- If you have a parmesan rind, throw the entire thing in while everything else is simmering as well.
- Add bay leaves for more depth of flavor.
- Drizzle with good quality olive oil right before you're ready to serve.
Storage and Freezing
This soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days (in fact, I think it tastes better the next day!). It can also be frozen for up to 6 months, just make sure it's got a tight lid and is level when you put it in the freezer.
White Bean and Ham Soup
- Dutch oven, large sauce pan, or soup pot
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic peeled & smashed
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 C cooked ham cubed
- 1 14oz can of white beans drained and rinsed
- 4 C chicken broth
- 3 C baby kale
- ¾ C parmesan cheese grated
- crostini for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook until the shallot is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for another minute.
- Add the ham and the beans, cook until heated through.
- Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes with a lid on, stirring occasionally.
- Season with salt and pepper. Taste, and adjust if needed.
- Take out the thyme stems and garlic cloves. Discard.
- Add the baby kale and the parmesan cheese. Stir until melted.
- Serve immediately with crostini, extra parmesan, and good quality olive oil.
Hi, I'm Cara! I'm a food writer, journalist, and recipe developer. I'm obsessed good food, good wine, good cocktails and entertaining. I've picked up a few tips over the years, and love sharing them with others.