Ham and Bean Soup
This recipe is the perfect example of making something from almost nothing, but we wanted a heartier version with serious chunks of ham-something we could serve as a main course for dinner.
Why This Recipe Works
The simplest ham and bean soup recipes are nothing more than dried beans and ham hocks simmered in water until the beans are tender and the ham has transformed the water into a smoky broth. A stray carrot or onion provides a bit more flavor, but that's about it. We wondered if we could add more heft to this humble, old-fashioned ham and bean soup recipe, transforming it into something we could serve as a main course for dinner. We found that using a combination of ham hocks and ham steaks gave our Ham and Bean Soup recipe a nice smoky flavor and lots of meaty ham chunks. Sautéing the ham and then simmering it in the soup gave it a caramelized flavor. To reduce the soup’s saltiness, we replaced half the low-sodium chicken broth with water. We found it best to soak the dried navy beans overnight—this step shortened their cooking time by at least 30 minutes.