Not sure what to do with that wonderful leftover holiday ham? Try this recipe. It’s been a family favorite for many years. Go easy on the salt and watch the beans very carefully so they don’t turn to mush. If you’re not sure how many guests you will be serving, or are planning leftovers, *reserve the spinach and add it to each bowl as needed. This will ensure freshness and a vibrant, colorful presentation. Enjoy!
2 14.5 oz. cans Great Northern beans, rinsed
1 49.5 oz. can chicken broth
3 or 4 cups diced ham (cut in 1/4″ cubes)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery with greens, diced
4 generous handfuls Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
4 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. dry thyme, crushed in a mortar
1 tbs. dry parsley flakes
1 large dry bay leaf
3 tbs. XV olive oil
2 tbs. salted butter
2 tbs. flour
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Preheat a 5-quart soup pot or cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion, celery, garlic, olive oil and butter. Sauté carefully for about ten minutes until the vegetables have softened. Do not allow them to scorch. Add the flour. Stir constantly for another five minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a low simmer, stirring occasionally.
Next, add the diced ham and dry spices. Stir and simmer partially covered over low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Add the pasta and beans and cook the pasta until just al dente, about 11-12 minutes. Shut off the heat and *add the spinach before serving.
Makes about 3 quarts