A superb soup, especially cheap if you have any leftover ham from a previous meal. Lots of ideas on how to use leftover vegetables in this tasty soup.
We are often asked what is the difference between gammon and ham? There is only one difference between gammon and ham, gammon is uncooked whereas ham is cooked gammon. They both come from a cut of meat from the hind legs of a pig.
There are other factors which affect the flavour and texture of gammon and ham. The key difference is what preserving method is used. Soaking the meat in salt (brining or salting) results in a slightly salty flavoured meat whereas smoking results, not surprisingly, in a smokey flavoured meat. It's simply a matter of preference which you prefer.
150g / 5½oz cooked ham
400g / 14oz can of Cannellini beans (see Advice Section below)
400g / 14oz can of chopped tomatoes
Handful of spinach
1 litre / 1.75 pints of hot vegetable stock
1 sweet pepper (red green or yellow)
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the sweet pepper in half, remove the stalk, pith and seeds then chop into small bits.
Peel and finely chop the onions.
Chop the ham up into small pieces.
This recipe uses cooked ham or gammon leftover from a previous meal although any ham will be fine. Bacon is another alternative, just ensure that it is cooked.
Cannellini beans can be substituted for any other type of beans such as kidney beans, chickpea or borlotti beans. If you use butter beans they will make a thicker soup. About a third of the soup is blended just before adding the beans. This gives you a semi-thick soup which still has some texture to it. Blending more of the soup will make it thicker and with less texture. The choice is yours.
If you have any leftover ham bits or the bones then a good idea when you add stock cubes to make the stock is to simmer the stock with the meat / bones for half an hour. Strain the stock and then use it in the recipe. The ham bone especially will add lots of flavour to the soup and make use of something you would otherwise throw away.
Other ideas for this soup include adding a hint of background flavour by using either a small amount of curry paste, sweet paprika or cumin. Both "hot" the soup up but don't go overboard with them or they will overpower the other tastes.
Vegetables can also added if you have any leftovers. Peas go well as does finely chopped celery and if you have any mushrooms then simply chop them up, fry them off for five minutes and then add them with the beans.
Add the olive oil to the frying pan on a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sweet pepper and stir well until they are all coated with the oil.
Fry the onions and peppers for about 15 minutes until they have softened and the onions have browned just a little. Keep turning the ingredients every couple of minutes so that they cook evenly.
Onions and sweet pepper frying
Add the chopped ham to the frying pan and stir into the onions and peppers. Fry for two minutes until the ham has warmed through.
Transfer the contents of the frying pan to a large pan (your frying pan is unlikely to be large enough) and add the stock, bay leaves, tomatoes, salt and pepper seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes stirring the soup occasionally.STEP 3
Pour about a third of the soup (discard the bay leaves) into a food blender and blend for around 30 seconds. Pour the blended soup back into the pan and add the cannellini beans and spinach. Taste and add more salt and pepper as required.
Heat the soup through on a medium heat for four minutes and serve into warm soup bowls.