(This is an old recipe that has been removed from my site. I am leaving the printer-friendly recipe here for anyone who was a fan of this soup!)

White Bean Soup with Ham and Chard

(Makes 8-10 servings, recipe created by Kalyn. This will freeze very well.)

3 cups dry white beans, soaked 8 hours or overnight
2 tsp. olive oil (for sauteeing vegetables and seasonings, optional)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups diced carrots
1 T minced garlic (I used garlic puree in a jar)
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. ground fennel seed (optional but recommended)
10 cups homemade chicken stock or 6 cans chicken broth (1 can is just over 1 1/2 cups)
4 cups water
3-4 dried bay leaves2 cups diced ham plus ham rind if available
1 bunch chopped red chard (about 4 cups)
Goya ham bouillon if needed (depends on how flavorful your ham is)
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Soak dried beans in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the soaked beans and pick out any broken ones and discard. Chop up the ham, saving the rind if there is one.

Chops carrots, celery, and onion. Heat the olive oil in the bottom of the soup pot, add vegetables, garlic, dried sage, and ground fennel and saute 3-5 minutes. (This is completely optional, but it gets the flavors of the sage and fennel into the vegetables.) Add the soaked beans, chicken stock, water, bay leaves, and ham rind if available. Simmer on low heat for one hour.

Add diced ham and cook 30 minutes more, or longer if needed, until beans are quite soft.

Trim center stem from chard leaves and discard, then cut each leaf in fourths lengthwise, and slice crosswise into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Wash chard after chopping if needed. (If the leaves are big, cut the pieces in half again.)

Add chard to soup with one cup additional water. Taste for flavor and add ham bouillon if desired. (I nearly always add a small amount.) Cook about 20-30 minutes more, until chard and beans are starting to break apart. Season with fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.

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