I first had a soup like this when my wife Lisa and I were celebrating our 30th anniversary in Italy. Interestingly, they served it for breakfast at the hotel we were staying at in the Amalfi Coast. It was very tasty and I kept going back to the breakfast buffet to help myself to more. Ever since we got home to the U.S. I thought about how to make it. I did some searches and found a couple of recipes, but they weren’t exactly what I remembered.
During the COVID19 crisis, my wife bought a smoked ham for us to eat. She cooked it with a nice brown sugar glaze, but this thing was huge and we ended up with an enormous amount of leftovers. At this time, nobody wants to even see you let alone eat your leftovers, so I cut of a nice piece of meat that we ate for breakfast with eggs all week. The rest I froze.
After a couple of weeks, it was time to figure out what to do with that big piece of ham in the freezer. It was a nice piece of meat that included a huge ham hock. I decided to try to make the Tuscan Ham & Bean Soup with a few modifications and featuring this huge ham hock. This recipe became mine! Dad’s Tuscan Bean Soup.
It’s a pretty simple recipe, and not very expensive either. Two of my favorite features. Oh, and it is unbelievably delicious. It’s called a “soup”, but it’s more like a stew. Definitely hardy enough to serve as a main course. So here’s how to make it.
- Ham hock with ample amount of meat around the bone. Leftovers from baked ham works really well. You can also use ham steak cut up into 3/4″ cubes.
- 2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 3 cans (14.5 oz.) cannellini beans (also known as white beans) drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp dried Thyme
- pepper to taste
- 4 cups of chicken broth (I make mine with a paste called “Better Than Bouillion”)
- 4 cups of water
- 1 large onion diced coarsely
- 3-4 cloves of garlic diced
- 2 bay leaves
- Combine all the ingredients except the cannellini beans in a large covered pot. Bring to gentle rolling boil with the pot covered for 1-2 hours until ham falls off the bone.
- Remove bayleaves
- Remove the ham bone and take any large chunks of meat out, cut into ~1/2″ cubes and place back in the pot.
- Add cannellini beans and stir gently
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes with the lid off to reduce (boil off water and thicken a bit)
- Serve with fresh Italian bread for dipping.
- Salt to taste, but I doubt you will need any. The ham is VERY salty.