There is no doubt about it, this smoked ham, kale and white bean stew has been an instant classic in our home. Cold weather on the way? Friends and family coming for a visit? There is nothing much more inviting and comforting than this wonderful stew. This was a recipe I picked up (and tweaked a bit) from the Robert Cove Germanfest in Louisiana a while back. The smoked ham, matched against the kale (or collard greens), white beans, whole grain mustard gives this stew such a distinct German flavor. Seriously, this will be one you’ll make over and over again. After his first piping hot bowl, it instantly became a Loon Favorite. When the stew is almost done, I like to puree a couple cups and add back to the stew…it gives it a wonderful creamy texture that just can’t be beat!
Smoked Ham, Kale and White Bean Stew
- 3 cups dried white beans
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter or bacon fat
- 1 large lonion chopped
- 4 celery stalks diced
- 1 medium carrot finely chopped (I use my food processor)
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 5 fresh bay leaves or 3 dried
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt or more to taste
- 1 tsp ground black pepper or more to taste
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 lbs best-quality smoked ham cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
- 1 rosemary sprig minced
- 9 cups chicken stock
- 1 bunch a good handful of fresh kale, large stems cut out, leaves torn into about 2-inch pieces - or you can use collard greens
- Place the beans in a large pot with enough water to cover them by 4 inches. Soak overnight.
- Heat the butter or bacon fat in a heavy pot (preferably a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat and add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, jalapeno, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and cayenne...and cook, stirring until the veggies have softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the ham, mustard, and rosemary, cook for 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
- Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the pot along with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook the stew at a simmer for 1 hour.
- Add the kale and cook for 30 minutes more.
- Turn off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes, discard the bay leaves.
- You can serve the soup as is at this point, but, to make it creamier...puree 2 cups of the stew in a blender and return to the pot.
- Taste for more seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if desired.
- Serve with good, crusty bread, or over cooked rice.