This beans and greens soup recipe makes a homey, hearty meal

Mixed Bean and Greens Soup With Ham and Rosemary Breadcrumbs

Active time:25 mins

Total time:45 mins


Active time:25 mins

Total time:45 mins



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It’s been a chilly February in Washington, and my thermostat doesn’t seem to like it when I set it above 69 degrees. So, just before I sat down to write this, I put on a pot of beans.

It’s become a weekly ritual this winter: After I walk the dog and have my coffee, I’ll pour a pound of dry beans into a Dutch oven; fill it with water; add some salt, a glug of olive oil, half an onion, maybe a carrot, a few cloves of garlic, a dried chile pepper and a bay leaf; and bring it to a low boil.

I learned this basic recipe from baker Rick Easton, of Bread and Salt Bakery in Jersey City, but it’s no secret. My editor Joe Yonan, author of “Cool Beans,” has written about a very similar formula.

As the beans simmer, they fill my apartment with warm, savory smells. Once they’re done, I serve myself a small bowl of the soft beans to taste them. I might add a little more salt, freshly cracked black pepper, tomato paste, a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar.

Depending on the type of bean, once they’re cool, I might mash some for bean-and-cheese tacos or puree them into a dip to eat with flatbread. I usually freeze a pint of them to use later.

Often, I find myself with more than one kind of bean hanging out in the refrigerator or freezer, and that’s how this mixed-beans-and-greens soup was born.

I wanted a soup that smelled like the comforts of home, so I started by sauteing some diced onion and carrot, then added garlic, a bit of ham, a bay leaf and broth. I finished it with a couple kinds of cooked beans — though if you only have one kind, that works fine! — plus dark leafy greens.

No time to simmer a pot of beans? I know that can be one chore too many, and I know not everyone has the ability to work from their kitchen. That’s why this recipe is written for convenience. Using economical and efficient canned beans here means this soup comes together in less than an hour — though it tastes like it simmered all day.

While it cooks, I suggest making a batch of crunchy breadcrumbs seasoned with rosemary. Then, when it’s time to serve, you can sprinkle some on top of each bowl. They’ll perfume each spoonful with rosemary’s wintry, piney scent.

Mixed Bean and Greens Soup With Ham

  • To make this vegan >> omit the ham and use vegetable broth.
  • Have a pot of cooked beans in the fridge? >> Use 3 cups of those in place of the canned beans.
  • Avoiding gluten? >> Skip the breadcrumbs.

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (5 ounces), diced
  • 2 small carrots (5 ounces total), diced
  • Fine salt
  • 4 ounces ham (about 2/3 cup), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
  • 4 cups no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, such as navy, Great Northern or cannellini, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can beans, such as kidney or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups (3 ounces) spinach or escarole, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (may substitute with 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup panko or other plain breadcrumbs

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, carrots and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ham, garlic and bay leaf, and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, white beans and other beans. Cover, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the carrots are tender and the flavors meld, about 15 minutes.

Make the breadcrumbs: Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the garlic powder, if using, and breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Stir the spinach or escarole into the soup, allowing it to wilt, about 1 minute. Taste and season with additional salt, if needed, and pepper. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.

Ladle into bowls, top with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the rosemary breadcrumbs and serve hot.

Calories: 367; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 22 mg; Sodium: 760 mg; Carbohydrates: 37 g; Dietary Fiber: 9 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 16 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.

Tested by Kara Elder; email questions to [email protected].

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Catch up on this week’s Eat Voraciously recipes:

Monday: Mediterranean Barlotto

Tuesday: Chili Pasta Casserole

Wednesday: Pizza Broccoli

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