Wednesday, February 12, 2014

White Bean and Ham Soup with Chard

Soak beans overnight to make this delicious White bean and Ham Soup with Chard; I promise it's worth it!

White bean and Ham Soup with Chard found on

All winter I've been making some of my favorite soup recipes from the past and updating photos for the blog, and this delicious White Bean and Ham Soup with Chard was first posted in February 2007 when my friend Alanna of a Veggie Venture was collecting soup recipes.  I made a couple of different soups for Alanna's month of soup, and since I have a weakness for soups that combine beans with greens, this is one I've made many times since.  If you don't have chard, any kind of greens will work, but I do think chard deserves more respect, and I love it in this soup.

Soak 3 cups of white beans overnight or for about 8 hours.  When you're ready to make the soup, drain and rinse the beans and pick out any broken ones.

Chop up the carrots, celery, and onions.

Chop up the ham, saving the rind if you have one.

You can skip this step, but I sauteed the vegetables with the minced garlic, dried sage, and ground fennel in the bottom of the soup pot for a few minutes before I put the in the other ingredients.

Put the chicken stock, water, dried, bay leaves, soaked beans, and ham rind (if available) into the pot and cook about an hour at a low simmer (or until beans are starting to soften.)

Then add the diced ham and cook about 30 minutes more, until the beans are very soft and starting to split apart.

Taste the soup at this point and if it doesn't have as much ham flavor as you'd like, you can add a small amount of "ham bouillon" such as the one above made by Goya. This is my favorite brand, but other brands I've used include Penzeys, Better Than Bouillon, or Knorr ham flavor base.  (All these are relatively high in sodium so use sparingly or avoid if you're limiting your sodium intake.)

Trim the chard and slice into strips and add to the soup, with a little more water if needed.  Cook about 20-30 minutes more.

Soup is done when the chard is very soft and starting to almost dissolve into the soup.  Serve hot.

(White Bean and Ham Soup with Chard was updated with better photos and step-by-step instructions, February 2014.  And just for laughs, here's the original photo of this soup from 2007!)

White Bean and Ham Soup with Chard
(Makes 8-10 servings, recipe created by Kalyn. This will freeze very well.)

3 cups dry white beans, soaked 8 hours or overnight
2 tsp. olive oil (for sauteeing vegetables and seasonings, optional)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups diced carrots
1 T minced garlic (I used garlic puree in a jar)
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. ground fennel seed (optional but recommended)
10 cups homemade chicken stock or 6 cans chicken broth (1 can is just over 1 1/2 cups)
4 cups water
3-4 dried bay leaves2 cups diced ham plus ham rind if available
1 bunch chopped red chard (about 4 cups)
Goya ham bouillon if needed (depends on how flavorful your ham is)
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Soak dried beans in cold water for 8 hours or overnight.  Drain and rinse the soaked beans and pick out any broken ones and discard.  Chop up the ham, saving the rind if there is one.

Chops carrots, celery, and onion.   Heat the olive oil in the bottom of the soup pot, add vegetables, garlic, dried sage, and ground fennel and saute 3-5 minutes.  (This is completely optional, but it gets the flavors of the sage and fennel into the vegetables.)  Add the soaked beans, chicken stock, water, bay leaves, and ham rind if available. Simmer on low heat for one hour.

Add diced ham and cook 30 minutes more, or longer if needed, until beans are quite soft.

Trim center stem from chard leaves and discard, then cut each leaf in fourths lengthwise, and slice crosswise into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Wash chard after chopping if needed. (If the leaves are big, cut the pieces in half again.)

Add chard to soup with one cup additional water. Taste for flavor and add ham bouillon if desired. (I nearly always add a small amount.) Cook about 20-30 minutes more, until chard and beans are starting to break apart. Season with fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.

South Beach Suggestions:
This soup is loaded with low-glycemic ingredients like beans, ham, and chard, but with the carrots it would be limited to Phase 2 or 3 for the South Beach Diet.  I think the soup would also be delicious without carrots if you wanted to make it for Phase One.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More White Bean Soups You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Slow Cooker Kielbasa and White Bean Stew with Tomatoes and Spinach ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
White Bean and Ham Soup from Simply Recipes
Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Ham and Sherry Vinegar ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Tomato, Zucchini, White Bean, and Basil Soup ~ The Perfect Pantry
White Bean Soup with Ham and Rosemary ~ Kalyn's Kitchen 
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) 

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. White bean soup is one that lends itself well to my trick of substituting barbecue sauce for the ham, to get the smoky flavor into the beans without the meat. Yes, it adds a tiny bit of sugar, but usually a tablespoon or so of BBQ sauce is all that's needed.

  2. I've done the ham rind trick but haven't discovered the "ham bouillon" and will seek it out.
    Yes this really is a beautiful color for the soup.

  3. Sounds wonderful, and perfect for the kale I just bought! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Love white bean soup, but never knew about the rind trick - Thanks! And I've never looked for ham bouillion, but I'm sure it's available here in San Diego. Great ideas, and a great looking soup!

  5. Glorious, for sure! I always save the rinds of Parmesan wedges, too, that's another way to add flavor. But I'll definitely try the ham rind, especially since I've gotten so keen on smoked ham since Christmas.

    Thanks for the contribution to Soup's On, #2, yes?!

  6. Lydia, sounds like a good idea. My stepmother doesn't eat pork so she would love this idea.

    Tanna, where you are you might have an easier time finding the Goya brand. It's by far the best in my opinion.

    Ruth, thanks, and Kale would be great.

    Toni, you can probably get Goya brand there too, and do try the ham rind.

    Alanna, thanks, and I have heard about the parmesan rind too but haven't done it. This is #3 soup for me, and one more coming next week. (Then what will I cook for March? Green food?

  7. I just love soups just like this! Flavor from the ham, and then tons of healthy high-fiber ingredients to make it satisfying. Love this Kalyn!

  8. Thanks Katie; so glad you liked it!

  9. Just wrote all the ingredients on my grocery list! This will be dinner for tomorrow so I can soak those beans. I'm betting I will love it. And ps - the original picture is pretty funny :). Your skills have really improved :)

  10. Thanks Amy! Some bloggers think I'm nuts for including those old photos, but I love seeing the progress. It really helps me to not get frustrated on those days (which still happen) when i can't get a photo to turn out the way I want it!

  11. Just finished a delicious bowl - I loved the flavor combination of the sage and fennel. I didn't have any ham bouillon so I used chicken. I also didn't see the add extra cup of water with the chard, so my broth was pretty full flavored but I loved it. Thanks as always for your great recipes!


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