415 ouncecans of white beans, rinsed and drained (e.g., cannellini, navy, great northern) ***Can use one pound dried beans instead (soak overnight and increase cooking time)
1bunch kale , chopped (optional, can use other veggie of choice or omit entirely)
Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium high heat and cook the onion for 4-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the celery, carrots and garlic and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Add the ham, beans and spices. Add the chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.If you prefer a brothy soup you can add the kale or whatever other veggies you want at this point and cook until the veggies are done.If you prefer a creamier soup, remove one or two ladlefuls of veggies and puree them in a blender. Then add the puree back into the soup.Add the kale. Let it simmer just until softened and wilted, about 5minutes.Add salt and pepper to taste.Serve with a salad or some crusty bread.
SLOW COOKER METHOD: Use one pound of dried beans instead (soaked overnight) and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or until the beans are tender. Add the kale during the last 20 minutes or so.