March and April are apparently “the hunger season,” when most of the cold storage crops are gone and nothing fresh has come out of the ground yet. It’s also the period in my life when I generally start feeling gloomy and sad, wanting it to either snow and be pretty again like December, or warm up and get sunny like spring and summer are supposed to be.
Really the only thing for this uncomfortable time is to make soup. Soup can make you forget how gross and gloomy it is outside, help you feel better about curling up inside with a book, and make you so happy to be using up the beans stored in your pantry that you almost forget how angry you are to not be wearing your favorite new spring flats.
Or is that just me?
Anyway, this soup is so good that it far surpasses any other soup I made this winter. They’re all good, but I’d sort of been dreaming about this one all winter. Thick, chunky, smoky and substantial, it has all of the body of a chowder without gluten or dairy. It’s really amazing. I used two cans of beans I had lying around and a quart of bone broth, bought two ham hocks and a leek, and pretty much made the easiest soup ever.
Is there a way to make this vegan? Probably. Skip the ham, saute a little kale in there instead, and use vegetable broth. But if you aren’t vegan, the ham adds a salty, smoky complexity that you’ll miss for sure.
- 6 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 leek, sliced very thinly
- 1 shallot, sliced thinly
- 2 cups cooked diced ham (I used ham hocks, you can use whatever you want)
- 2 cans of white beans, drained
- 4 cups stock (I used bone broth)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the grease.
- Sautee the leek and shallot in the grease until very soft. Add ham and cook until it begins to brown just a little bit. Add in 1 can of beans and the stock.
- Puree remaining can of beans and add to the pot. If you find it difficult to puree the beans, add a few spoonfuls of the stock to aid pureeing. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve sprinkled with bacon.