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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.