White Bean Soup with Ham, Pumpkin, and Chard

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.

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

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin 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, or homemade
  • 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.