Looking for the best black bean soup? Search no further. My Smoky Black Bean Ham Soup is thick and meaty and loaded with extras like fire roasted hatch chiles, diced tomatoes and jalapenos. Top this ham bone and bean soup with all your favorites, like queso fresco, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. This ham bone bean soup recipe is perfect for cool days.
I don’t know about you, but during the holidays my refrigerator was so jam-packed that it was like a game of Tetris — stacking Tupperware containers, trying to make room for new dishes while carefully extracting others. Slowly, the leftovers have diminished, but I couldn’t start fresh on my healthy resolutions until I used up all the scraps. That’s where this smoky black bean ham soup came into play.
The leftover with the greatest yield was a ham. I had been been staring at the remains of this smoked pork for the better part of 5 days, cutting off slices and chunks here and there to serve with leftover sweet potatoes for a quick dinner, with quiche for an easy breakfast, and in these angel flake ham biscuits, which I had made far too many of. I was finally getting to my favorite part of the ham — the bone – an essential ingredient for a ham bone and bean soup, don’t you think?
To me, a ham bone is the jumping off point for any number of soups — vegetable, white bean, split pea you name it. Heck, just by covering the bone with water and letting it simmer for a few hours, you can achieve a broth that can be used in any number of dishes. The bag of dried black beans in my pantry provided me direction for this particular ham bone bean soup recipe.
I started the night before, soaking the beans. The next day, I foraged for other ingredients in my fridge in order to save myself a trip to the grocery store. I used the straggler veggies that had somehow escaped my cutting board and chefs knife throughout Christmas and New Year’s. They included a lonely carrot, some celery, an onion, a bell pepper and the last of my hatch chiles (courtesy of my friend, Nola). A can of tomatoes and some smoky cumin rounded out this thick potpourri.
Though the black bean ham soup is awesome on its own, it’s even better with a few fresh toppings sprinkled on just before eating. I’d say everything except the squeeze of lime are optional — but trust me, you want that squeeze of lime. That hint of citrus turns this from a standard ham bone and bean soup to the best black bean soup ever.
My initial plan had been to put my leftovers to good use and clean out my refrigerator at the same time. This soup accomplished that and so much more. Chunky and rich, this Smoky Black Bean Ham Soup was so thick and satisfying that my diners went back for seconds (and thirds). The scant leftovers were promptly claimed for lunch the following day.
Try this ham bone bean soup recipe for a flavorful, warming meal with a crust of bread and green salad.
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Smoky Ham and Black Bean Soup
- 1 16 oz. package dried black beans
- 10 cups water divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 cup celery diced
- 1 bell pepper I used a yellow pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 onion peeled and diced
- 1 carrot peeled and diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup fire roasted hatch chiles diced, optional
- 1 leftover ham bone
- 1 1/2 cups diced ham
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 jalapeño diced (seeds & membranes make it hotter - so if you like it spicier, leave them in)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- lime wedges
- queso fresco crumbled
- sour cream
- green onions diced
- In a pot, add the dried beans. Sift through them with your fingers to remove any debris or stones. Add three cups water to cover beans. Soak the beans overnight.
- The next day, drain the beans and set aside.
- In a heavy dutch oven, add two tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the celery, bell pepper, onion and carrot for five minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
To the vegetables, add the beans, bay leaves, hatch chiles and ham bone and 7 cups water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until beans are tender.
- Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add jalapeño and garlic and sauté for one -two minutes, until tender and fragrant.
Add cumin and onion powder to garlic mixture about a minute, until cumin smells toasty. Remove from heat.
Using tongs, remove ham bone from the soup. Remove any loose meat from the bone to go back into the soup. Discard the bone.
Add diced ham, garlic mixture, tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Stir to combine, simmer, covered for 20 minutes on medium-low heat. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Serve with your choice of toppings.
I serve this with little condiment bowls filled with garnish and let everyone finish their soup with their favorite toppings.
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