Well, that was fun wasn’t it? We all ate a little too much pound cake, drank a little too much champagne, gorged on a little bit too much brie, and it was damn good while it lasted. Now, in addition to scribbling out 8s and writing 9s on our checks, we’re back to the gym (ouch, I could barely even wash my hair today after 8000 tricep exercises) and reinserting vegetables into our repertoire. I, for one, love this time of year. It’s a good time of year to set intentions (my preference over resolutions), and I love the opportunity to get back to the healthy meals and regular bedtimes we thrive on.
I first made this soup 8 years ago with leftover ham from my first Thanksgiving with my husband, and I’ve been in love with and tweaking this recipe ever since. It’s bold with flavor, and can be adopted to either the slow cooker or the stove. It’s cheap to make (I’m looking at you Christmas bills), and really versatile (smoked turkey would make a great substitution if you don’t eat pork).
I love how the hearty swiss chard stands up to the smokiness of the ham and the texture of the beans. This soup is a symphony of colors and flavors and one of my all-time favorites. As y’all know, I make a big pot of soup every Monday to eat for the week and this is going to be a great week. Make this (you can easily double it if you have the 8qt Instant Pot, and put some in a jar to give to someone you love (or who needs your support this week). You won’t regret it.
There are so many reasons why I love soup, namely:
- It’s super affordable to make
- It uses up extra pantry items
- It’s a one pot meal – less dishes and clean up
- It can be made in the Instant Pot (AKA black magic maker)
- It’s a great way to hide vegetables for picky eaters, er toddlers
- It’s easy to heat and eat for daily lunches (usually in a mug)
- It’s low carb/low starch and usually quite healthy
So, without further ado:
Bean, Ham & Swiss Chard Soup
3 slices of bacon, chopped (if you don’t eat pork, you can easily omit)
1/2 cup of chopped onion or 8 cloves of chopped garlic, or both, depending on your preference or what you have around
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup of diced, smoked ham from a smoked ham steak (or the same amount of smoked turkey or even smoked chicken)- dice in 1/4 inch chunks
1 can of chickpeas or black eyed peas (or even white beans), drained and rinsed
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, including juice
1 small bunch of swiss chard, washed thoroughly (doesn’t need to be dried)
4 teaspoons of better than bouillon chicken
4 cups of water
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
First: Start by using a scissors to cut the central rib out of each leaf of your swiss chard, and when you have your leaves destemmed, roll them gently like paper tubes, and using a scissors, cut them into 1/2 inch thick ribbons.
Instant Pot directions: saute chopped bacon until crispy (2-4 minutes); do not drain; add vegetables (garlic, onion, carrot, celery) and sautee until softened, about 4 minutes; add ham (or other meat) and beans and tomatoes, add BTB and water, and red pepper flakes if you are using. Add swiss chard. Set Instant Pot to manual and 0 minutes. Natural release and taste for seasoning. Depending on saltiness of the ham, you may not need any additional salt.
Stove top directions: saute chopped bacon in the bottom of a heavy dutch oven or pot until crispy (2-4 minutes); do not drain; add vegetables (garlic, onion, carrot, celery) and saute until softened, about 4 minutes; add ham (or other meat) and beans and tomatoes, add BTB and water, and red pepper flakes if you are using. Add swiss chard. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for one hour on low. Taste for seasoning. Depending on saltiness of the ham, you may not need any additional salt.
*Soup pictured with perfect, apt tea towel which was a gift from my lovely friend Chelo, and on my new vintage tray. Inspired by my friend Ashley who has about 25 of them, I’m amassing an army of these things from rummage sales and the Restore, and using them to feel civilized as I serve the kids their waffles during Sesame Street.