Southern Italian Ham and Bean Soup

1 pound great northern beans
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leafs
1 teaspoon thyme
½ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup Marsala wine (optional)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup fully cooked ham (ham of the bone if possible)


Cook the beans according to package directions. When the beans are almost cooked thru, strain them and set aside.

In a large sauté pan on medium-low heat, add the oil, carrots, onion, and celery.  Sauté until all the vegetables are soft and translucent.  Add the salt, pepper, bay leafs, thyme and tomato sauce and cook for a minute.  Next, add the Marsala wine and sauté another minute.

Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the broth to the pan and bring to a boil.  Add the partially cooked beans and ham. Simmer until the beans are cooked thru. Taste for seasoning before serving. Serve with toasted crusty bread. Makes 4-6 servings.

This soup is a great choice for leftovers from a bone-in ham. If you are a vegetarian, omit the ham. You can use canned beans if you like as a shortcut. Be sure to rinse and strain well. I prefer using fresh beans since they contain no salt, this way I can control my own salt. Whichever you choose, take a few minutes more and toast some rustic bread slices with olive oil , salt and pepper.  Toasted rustic bread is a delicious match with this hearty soup.  Oh…. Don’t forget to drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top for each serving.

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