I love winter time because it is such a great time for soups. One of the soups my mom used to make quite often when I was growing up was a Great Northern Bean and Ham Soup because it was one of my dad's favorites, and my dad often spiced it up a little with some red hot sauce. I was never particularly fond of it- I just ate it because that was what we had to do in our family. However, after I was married, our neighbor at that time invited us over for a supper of Ham and Bean Soup. It was so delicious that I was immediately hooked! The difference was just a little addition of tomato soup or sauce. Navy beans or any other white bean could be substituted in place of the Great Northern Beans. It could also be made without the ham, although I believe that is part of what gives such a good flavor. Since I had a large amount of leftover ham, decided that this was a good way to make some easy comfort food. I also took a little shortcut and used canned beans- you might soak and make the soup with dried beans if desired. The process will just take longer. In addition, I added some extra vegetables (celery, carrots, sweet potato) to this last soup, which really added a nice flavor.
Serves approximately 6
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (optional, but really boosts the flavor & health benefits!)
2-3 Tbsp butter or olive oil
2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup chopped ham (more or less according to your preference)
29 oz. can of Great Northern Beans, or other type of white beans- or may cook 1 pound of dried beans according to directions on package
6 cups water (more or less to cover ingredients well in pot)
1-2 packets ham bouillon (Goya or other brand), optional or ham broth from leftover ham
8 oz. or 15 oz. can of tomato sauce (may use can of tomato soup)- I used 2 8 oz. cans
1 1/2- 2 tsp seasoned salt- adjust to taste
1/2 tsp pepper
parsley for garnish
In a large soup pot, sauté onions, celery and sweet potato in butter or oil. After onion becomes translucent, add in the garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Then add in the remaining ingredients except that parsley. Cook over medium heat for approximately 30-50 minutes or until sweet potatoes are very soft, stirring occasionally. Then using as handheld stick blender, carefully blend the soup on low speed until the soup becomes thicker. You can still leave some chunks of beans and meat. Serve with a hearty bread.