Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post
This nourishing meal-in-a-bowl of hearty white beans simmered with herbs, studded with ham and flecked with kale leaves is the very definition of healthful comfort food. If you happen to have a leftover ham bone with some meat on it, take advantage of that treasure by using it here instead of the ham steak. Just cut the meat off the bone, add the bone to the pot to simmer with the beans, and then remove the bone before adding the meat to the pot along with the kale.
Make Ahead: The beans need to be soaked at least 8 hours in advance.
Storage Notes: Leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
1 pound dried navy beans
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion (10 ounces), diced
1 large carrot (5 ounces), diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
4 cups water
6 ounces ham steak, diced
3 cups (1 1/2 ounces) coarsely chopped kale
Pick over the beans and discard any stones. Transfer the beans to a large bowl and add enough water to cover the beans by 2 to 3 inches. Soak the beans for at least 8 hours and up to overnight; drain.
Tie the parsley, thyme and bay leaf into a bundle with kitchen twine.
In a stockpot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, carrot, celery, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, until aromatic, 30 seconds more.
Add the beans, broth, water, the herb bundle, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove the lid, discard the herb bundle, and add the ham and kale. Cover the pot and continue to cook until the kale has softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Using a large wooden spoon, mash some of the beans against the side of the pot (it will add body to the broth). Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve right away.
Makes 8 Servings
Per serving: Calories 308; Total Fat 8g; (Sat Fat 1g); Protein 19g; Carb 43g; Fiber 15g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 535mg; Total Sugar 5g