Tuscan Bean Soup

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This recipe is really enhanced by the garlic. The more, the better if you ask me. And I don’t personally care for the quality of the meat from the ham hocks, but if you want to economize or be frugal, use it instead of the additional country ham. You can substitute smoked turkey wings for the ham hocks if you’d rather.

1 lb dried northern white beans
bunch fresh rosemary
smoked ham hocks
8 c water
2-3 large leeks, diced
¼-½ lb country ham, diced (optional)
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth

Inspect and rinse the beans. In a largish pan with a tight fitting lid, add the beans, the rosemary (tied to minimize the number of needles that work loose), the ham hocks and the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2-3 hours, covered. The beans should be soft but still whole.

Once that’s done, drain the beans, remove the rosemary and if you’re economizing and not using the country ham, let the ham hocks cool until you can handle them to pick out the bits of edible meat, otherwise, discard.

Using the same pan, thoroughly clean and dice the leeks, and sweat in olive oil for a few minutes. (If you’re using the country ham, add it to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Don’t add any additional salt.) Add the crushed garlic and a teaspoon of salt. Meanwhile, blend the beans in a food processor, probably in multiple batches, until smooth. (You can optionally blend one of the batches a little less to add some chunks and a little bite. Also, if you like rosemary, you can add a little of the rosemary from the earlier step.) Add to the pan along with the chicken broth stirring until smooth and heated.