White Bean Soup with Ham, Pumpkin, and Chard

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Years ago my doctor advised me to “eat colorful foods”. “When you look at the foods on your plate, there should be lots of color and variety,” he explained.

Great advice, and easy to remember. Colorful fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients.

Here’s a warming fall and winter stew that is so alive with color, it makes me smile just to look at it. Just take your basic white bean and ham soup, and rev it up with tomatoes, fresh pumpkin, and chard.

White Bean Soup with Ham, Pumpkin, Chard

My father came over to try some for lunch and went home with half the batch (I wouldn’t let him take it all). Enjoy!

White Bean Soup with Ham, Pumpkin, and Chard Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 5-6

This recipe calls for a sugar pumpkin (the kind you use to make pies). You can easily substitute the same quantity of butternut squash or almost any winter squash.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • One 2 pound whole sugar pumpkin, halved, seeds scooped out, flesh peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks (resulting in 3 1/2 cups or 1 pound of chunks)
  • 1/2  pound ham hock
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 15-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained OR 1 large fresh, ripe tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, tied with string (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 15-ounce cans of cannellini white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 large Swiss chard leaves (can substitute kale), center rib removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

1 Sauté onions, bay leaves, celery, garlic: Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large, thick-bottomed pot (5 to 6 quart). Add the onion and the bay leaves and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the chopped celery, cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more.

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2 Add pumpkin, ham hock, stock, tomatoes, thyme: Add the chopped pumpkin and the ham hock to the pot. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and thyme. Increase heat to bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, uncovered. Let simmer for an hour and a half.

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3 Remove ham hock, add white beans, chard: Remove the ham hock from the soup pot, to a plate to let cool enough to handle.  Add the white beans and cook for 15 minutes. Add the chopped chard, simmer until chard is wilted, a few minutes more.

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4 Strip ham from bone, chop, return to soup: Strip the meat from the ham hock, chop it, and return to the pot. Add 1 to 2 cups of water to the soup to thin it to your preference. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Add freshly ground black pepper and adjust seasonings to taste.

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White Bean Soup with Ham, Pumpkin, Chard

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Showing 4 of 53 Comments

  • Brian

    Made this one over the weekend with some substitutes. Had some leftover home smoked pork picnic shoulder that I subbed in for the hocks and used butternut squash rather than pumpkin. Also cut the squash into 1/2 ” chunks to reduce cooking time (because I started waaay too late to let it simmer 1/5 hours.)

    Still loved the soup (having some for lunch today!!) and will have this on our “Welcome to Fall” rotation.

  • Donna

    I made this for the 2nd time already, once last fall and again. I used butternut squash. It thickens the soup and adds a sweetness. I found some chard in my garden that the deer haven’t got to yet. The soup is excellent!

  • Carla

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe, I did it using precut butternut squash, and red chard, and my husband and I love it specially on a cold day like today, I love your website thanks for posting pictures.

  • David

    Can you can this soup?

  • Julie

    I made this soup using navy beans that were soaked overnight and used kale instead of chard which my girls like better. I also subbed a sweet dumpling squash (chopped in small cubes) for the pumpkin and left the skin on which was undetectable in the finished dish. I accidently put chopped carrots in with the onion and celery which is common in so many of the soups I make. It only added more veg goodness. We absolutely loved this soup and it made enough to share with a neighbor for her family. We will make it again and again, changing up the greens, squash/pumpkin and beans. A beautiful and hearty fall soup. Thank you!

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