We had a very mild fall and winter up until New Year’s Eve, then … BAM! We have already had more snow in these first 10 days of January than we have had in the last two Januaries. The good thing about snow here in Colorado though is that it doesn’t stay long at all. Snow today, gone tomorrow. That’s our norm. When we have cold snowy days, it is always the perfect weather for a nice warm bowl of soup to help take the chill off.
I told you that for New Year’s Day we had black-eyed pea salad Black-Eyed Pea Salad and I had made a ham for New Year’s Eve. Due to unforeseen circumstances though, we did not host our planned New Year’s Eve get together, which means we had a lot of both leftover. So I did what comes naturally to me, and I reinvented them. I turned them into soup.
I like making rustic style foods. When I make soups, I like them to be full of “stuff”, but then this is actually true with just about everything I make. I like “stuff in my stuff”. This rustic ham and bean soup was definitely full of stuff too. If you are not a ham person, you can make this same soup with either meatballs or chicken too.
Rustic Ham and Bean Soup
You can use any kinds of beans, but since I had my leftover black-eyed salad, I used black-eyed peas. I used what I had already made ( used the rest of the salad) and then of course, added more of everything. Larry says I have a gift of taking leftovers and recreating them to make even more leftovers than what I started with. This is very true. And I do believe it is a gift. No one will ever starve at my house. 🙂
2- lbs cooked ham, cubed
1 onion, diced
1-2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2-3 bay leaves
1-2 TBSP garlic
2 cups dried beans (I used black-eyed peas) or 1 can of beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups broth, either vegetable, ham or chicken broth (I used a combination of vegetable broth and ham broth I made from the ham bone)
3-4 medium tomatoes or 5-6 smaller tomatoes, diced
3-4 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed and chopped
salt & pepper to taste
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
olive oil for cooking
Parmigiano or mozzarella cheese for topping, optional
Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and get it nice and hot. Add the carrots, celery, bay leaves, garlic and onions to the oil and saute for about 5-7 minutes, or until tender and the onions are translucent.
Add the ham and black-eyed peas and mix together.
Then add the broth, tomatoes and seasonings. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Add the spinach at the end. Mix it thoroughly into the soup mix, then serve. You can top the soup with either Parmigiano or mozzarella cheese if you like.
We had a delicious meal of soup and the rest of the New year’s pretzel buns Pretzel Buns to warm us up on a cold and snowy night. I served it with a rich, buttery chardonnay on the side.
Stay warm, stay safe and stay healthy. ‘Til next time.